Rain delay extends Rays season

Carl Crawford hit the ball sharply to shortstop and Jimmy Rollins mishandled the ball; when Crawford inexplicably hesitated on is way to first, allowing Rollins to recover and throw him out, it looked as if the St. Pete club was thinking more about tee times than staying alive. Rays cleanup man Carlos Pena, hitless in the Series, tried to bunt his way on and grounded out.

And so it went. Kazmir narrowly escaping one jam after another to keep it at 2-0. And then -- whoa! -- Pena rapped a double, and then -- what?! -- Evan Longoria, who had also been oh-fer-the-Series, singled him in. 2-1.

The weather got nastier and nastier. The wind swirled, it rained sideways. But the umpires and MLB made like Carl the groundskeeper and let them keep playing. How were they going to call a rain delay, then in a few hours perhaps have to call the game, thus giving the Phillies the World Series title without playing nine innings? Good call. It was ugly out there, but conditions made it playable. Nobody's was risking their life. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig subsequently said that he would not have ended the game under such circumstances and instead would have put it in an indefinite rain delay. Another good call.

Selig was spared that decision by a dramatic turn of events. B.J. Upton got to first an in infield hit, then after Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels threw over to the bag four times to keep him on, and while the announcers were saying it was nigh impossible for him to steal in the infield slop, he jetted down the basebath and made it to second easily. Pena then came to the plate, rain dripping off the bill of his batting helmet, and wrapped a single to left field. Upton gingerly rounded third and hydroplaned into home, narrowly beating the throw.

2-2. During commercial, the grounds crew began spreading the tarp and the game was officially suspended.

So, what to make of all this? If you're like me, you were all set to basically call it a Series. The Rays had looked worn out and hopeless, and it was frustrating that the world was seeing the old, hapless Rays instead of the scrappy, never-say-die Rays.

The Rays are still down 3-1 in the Series. But if we wanted a spark, this was it. Phillies ace Hamels is done, probably for the Series. The Phillies' murderous late-game relievers, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge, will most likely have to wait before taking the mound when play resumes. The Rays have a decent window to confiscate this win, and I'm figuring that their competitiveness has sharpened. If the Rays can bring the Series back to St. Pete, like they say, anything can happen.

And wouldn't that be a wild and strange ending to an improbable season?

I had my Rays eulogy all ready to go. It'll have to wait. Who knows, maybe I won't even have to write it.

In one of the weirder moments in World Series history, Game 5 was delayed at 10:40 last night with the Rays and Phillies tied 2-2 in the middle of the 6th inning. The teams had played in dismal, rainy, low-40s weather for more than an hour when Major League Baseball officials stopped it. The game is schedule to resume at 8 tonight, weather permitting, but the forecast calls for rain, and the hope is the World Series will conclude before Thanksgiving.

That's OK with me. I was all set to move on with a well-the-Rays-really-did-have-a-great-season attitude.

Instead, more baseball, and Rays fans can now approach it with, not exactly optimism, but a sense of excitement. The team did not go quietly, although that's how it looked early, when Scott Kazmir did his usual post-season thing: going deep into counts and digging a 2-0 hole in the first inning.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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