10/29/08 6:14 PM ET
Rays, Phils to resume Game 5 tonight
Clubs will pick up suspended contest in bottom of sixth inning
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 40s and high 30s when play begins in the bottom of the sixth inning at 8:37 p.m. ET, with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia tied at 2 in what could be the deciding game of the Fall Classic.
Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would take place in the domed confines of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Thursday and Friday. Major League Baseball announced that, in the event of a Rays victory in Game 5, there would be no travel day as Game 6 would be played Thursday evening.
As Rays manager Joe Maddon remarked, the weather might be more suitable for a NFL contest, but the Phillies and Rays will make it work for Major League Baseball.
"It would be better if the Eagles and the Bucs would take the field today," Maddon said. "It would be much more appropriate. We're fine with it. If the game goes on, you're not going to hear one bit of crying from us. We're going to go out and do our best."
Grant Balfour is the pitcher in the game for Tampa Bay, while Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth are due up for Philadelphia.
Thus, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will have had two full days to consider a pinch-hitter for his pitcher, who limited the Rays to two runs over six innings when Game 5 began on Monday. A victory for the Phillies would clinch their first championship since the 1980 season.
"Once the game got called and we got out of the clubhouse, if you stop and think and look where we're at, we're still sitting in a very good position," Manuel said. "And we've controlled our destiny. I said this yesterday, I think, we've controlled our destiny all year long and we've still got control of it."
The forecasts look promising for an on-time start to Wednesday's resumption.
Weather.com, the Web site of The Weather Channel, is forecasting clouds for this evening, with a low of 29 degrees and winds from the west at 10 to 20 mph. According to them, it would be mostly cloudy and 40 degrees at 8 p.m., with a 20 percent chance of precipitation.
Weatherbug, which provides weather updates to MLB, said that there is a 15 percent chance of precipitation at 8 p.m., dropping to 5 percent at 9 p.m., with temperatures in the low 40s and high 30s.
The National Weather Service is calling for mostly cloudy skies with a low around 35 degrees, and a west wind between 11 and 17 mph, with a slight chance of rain and snow showers before midnight. The chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Accuweather predicts partly cloudy skies and 42 degrees at 8 p.m., with a 23 percent probability of precipitation between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. After 8 p.m., the probability of precipitation rises to 30 percent.
Manuel said that playing under the kinds of conditions the next 3 1/2 innings will present offers varying challenges.
"Sometimes it's real cold, the ball is kind of hard to grip and it's kind of slippery, and you've got to keep your hands warm enough before you execute pitches and feel free to throw the ball," Manuel said.
"From a hitting standpoint, you seem like you're tight and it's cold, and when you hit the ball a lot of times your hands sting. And people say, 'Well, you've got gloves on.' Well, believe me, if you don't hit the ball on the fat part of the bat, you get a sting from it.
"It can be uncomfortable hitting in cold weather, but at the same time it can be uncomfortable throwing a ball, too. Both sides, they've got the same problems. And how big the problem is depends on how warm you can stay and how loose you can stay."
Ultimately, the decision on when and whether to play remains in the hands of Commissioner Bud Selig, who returned to Philadelphia after flying home to his Milwaukee office after the Game 5 suspension. During the regular season, pregame postponements are controlled by the home club, and then after a game begins, by the umpires.
Up to this point, there had never been a rain-shortened game in Series history, and this was the first suspension. Game 3 of the World Series, played Saturday evening, was delayed one hour and 31 minutes by rain. The Phillies and Rays played uninterrupted after the delay, with Philadelphia winning, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth on Carlos Ruiz's bases-loaded infield hit.
The field at Citizens Bank Park is playable in a steady rain. The system in place allows the grass to drain and a sand-like substance is used to keep the dirt portion of the infield from saturating. As a backup, the system is equipped with a vacuum that pumps tons of water out of the drainage pipes.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.