Month: April 2016

Playing it cool

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I’d love to see the route efficiency number on Stephen Drew’s circuitous pursuit of a Cesar Hernandez infield popup at Nationals Park on Thursday.

Drew, playing short for the Nats, positioned himself underneath the high flying ball, for a second, and then had to sprint to his right and in a bit to chase down the falling spheroid.

“There’s a lot of things going on right there, twilight, wind,” Nationals’ TV commentator F.P. Santangelo said.

From the looks of the play, it was mostly wind. You could see it rustling past Jonathan Papelbon’s sleeves as the cameras flashed back to the Nats’ closer. You could see it a few moments early when a strong breeze appeared to push a Cameron Rupp drive to right over the head of Bryce Harper.

(Can we also blame the wind for the Nationals scoring zero runs, getting only six base hits in two games and making the Phillies’ pitching staff look like the ’96 Atlanta Braves’ hurlers?)

It was a bit nasty in the district Thursday… both the baseball and the weather.

The temperature dipped to the low 50s, and the game’s first pitch was delayed 36 minutes by rain.

According to data from Weather Underground, wind speed was hitting around 15 mph at the time of Drew’s infield adventure. You can be a weather-no-nothing like me and still know that’s not a lot, but it was enough play havoc on balls hit toward the coulds in the top of the ninth inning.

Up the road a bit in Baltimore, where the hot-hitting Orioles cooled the first-place Chicago White Sox, temperatures fell to 48 degrees on an overcast night and Rich Dubroff of CSN Mid-Atlantic wondered if it would ever be warm again for baseball.

The game time temperature equaled April 6 for the Orioles’ “second coldest temperature at first pitch,” Dubroff wrote.

The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck wrote today that perhaps the cold weather in Baltimore is helping the AL East-leading O’s stay hot.

“I have an outlandish theory that the Orioles have shown more plate discipline at Camden Yards because it has been so cold most of the time they haven’t been in a hurry to swing the bat,” Schmuck wrote.

Of the six games played outdoors Thursday, five had temperatures of 55 or below. It was 45 in Detroit and at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, 55 at first pitch in Washington and 50 in Boston.

The Rockies and Pirates had the finale of their three-game series postponed by rain and snow and 38-degree temperatures at Coors Field Thursday. That seemed to be OK for Walt Weiss, skipper of the struggling Rockies.

“I’m not going to kick and scream if we don’t play,” he said before the game was called.

The cool trend continues Friday. It’ll be 47 for the Cubs’ game in Wrigley, 48 in Boston, 50 in Philadelphia, 53 at Citi Field in New York, 54 in Baltimore, 56 in Minneapolis, 58 in Pittsburgh and 68 with a chance of rain in St. Louis.

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Icy Coors

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As the Colorado Rockies were preparing for their series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday, a light snow was falling on Coors Field.

It was 38 degrees with more precipitation in the forecast. That’s not baseball weather. That’s winter.

As a result, the get-away-day matinee has been postponed. No makeup date has been announced.

Wait for it…

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WrigleyTV04-27-2016
MLB Network

We all wanted to see if Jake could do it again.

Five days after throwing a no-hitter, the second of his career, Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta was scheduled take the mound Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The weather, however, refused to cooperate.

Rain peppered Wrigley Field and was forecasted to continue through evening. Fearing long delays throughout the night, umpires postponed the contest.

“The umpires are very aware of starting pitchers and what they mean in today’s game,” Cubs’ Manager Joe Maddon said. “They don’t want either side to lose their starting pitcher through a long rain delay.”

No makeup date has been announced.

Arrieta’s bid for a second consecutive no-hitter – do we really think he can spin two no-nos in a row? – will come Thursday in a 1:20 p.m. (Central) matinee contest at Wrigley.

Maybe.

The weather isn’t looking great for that game either. As of early Wednesday morning, the forecast for Wrigley is calling for a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain throughout the day.

There are eight games in the Majors today, and there’s a chance of precipitation for five of those contest.

Here’s a look:

A’s at Tigers – 1:10 p.m. (Eastern) – 38 percent chance of rain

Brewers at Cubs – 1:20 (Central) – 49 percent chance of rain

Pirates at Rockies – 1:10 (Mountain) – 39 percent chance of rain

Phillies at Nationals – 4:05 (Eastern) – 47 percent chance of rain

White Sox at Orioles – 7:05 (Eastern) – 48 percent chance of rain

Elsewhere, prize Twins pitching prospect Jose Berrios had his Major League debut delayed and subsequently spoiled Wednesday night. Rain pushed back the start of the game by 35 minutes. It was a breezy 44 degrees when Berrios took the Target Field mound. In four innings of work, he allowed five runs on six hits and struck of five. Cleveland won 6-5.

Cool nights, hot Cubs

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Cubsfan4-26-2016
Chicago Tribune

At 15-5, the Chicago Cubs are off to a hot start this season. Not even cold weather has been able to slow them down.

Tuesday night, the Cubbies hosted the Milwaukee Brewers for the first of three games at Wrigley Field, and the temperature at game time dipped to 40 degrees. And with a 16 mph wind shooting out of left center field, it felt like 34 degrees to those sitting in the friendly confines.

The NL Central-leading Cubs managed only two hits in the first 5 1/3 innings against Brewers’ righty Jimmy Nelson, who tossed 109 pitches in the contest.

In the sixth, however, the Cubs’ bats warmed up. Addison Russell slugged a two-out, two-run triple to break a 1-1 tie. An inning later, Anthony Rizzo doubled in a run to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Chicago gave up two runs to the Brewers in the eighth, but managed to hang on for a 4-3 victory.

The win improved the Cubs to 4-0 this season in games that had a first-pitch temperature at 48 degrees or below. Chicago has outscored their opponents 26-9 in those four games, all of which were played at Wrigley. Three of the four games, as noted below, were tangles with the Cincinnati Reds.

Date, Opponent, Temperature, Result
April 26, Brewers, 40 degrees, Cubs 4-3
April 14, Reds, 45 degrees, Cubs 8-1
April 13, Reds, 48 degrees, Cubs 9-2
April 11, Reds, 48 degrees, Cubs 5-3

The Brewers, who play their home games in cozy Miller Park where’s there’s a retractable roof, managed only four hits Tuesday night.

“It was a tough day to hit, wind blowing and really cold,” said Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks, who gave up only a run on two hits in five innings, but did not factor into the decision.

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The two teams meet again Wednesday night for game two of the three-game series. Temperatures will be warmer, but a moderate wind will be blowing in from center field. In case you’re wondering, the Cubs are 4-2 with the wind blowing in a Wrigley this season.

Also, there’s a good chance rain could be persistent throughout the night, possibly causing delays.

By the way, Jake Arrieta is scheduled to pitch tonight for the Cubs. Perhaps the Brewers will be praying for rain.

Eye on the storms

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Strong thunderstorms, some of which may be severe according to weather forecasts, are expected to sweep through Arlington, Texas this evening just as the hometown Rangers will be hosting the New York Yankees at Globe Life Park.

The first pitch from Rangers’ right-hander A.J. Griffin is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. local time.

However, for Arlington tonight the National Weather Service is warning: “Damaging winds and very large hail will be the main threats with the storms this afternoon and tonight. Isolated tornadoes will also be possible with the storms that develop first.”

With downpours, large hail and possible tornadoes, the Rangers are monitoring the weather and could postpone the game if they deem it unsafe for folks to be in the ballpark, according to a story on a local TV station’s website.

“We carefully monitor the weather in any situation that could potentially be dangerous and affect both the game and the safety of our fans,” Rangers Executive Vice President of Communications John Blake said in a story posted on NBCDFW.com. “That will go on throughout the day.” And we consult with several weather experts to see what we can expect and the timing of any events.”

Spring storms, as we all know, can be terribly unpredictable.

Let’s say the game goes on as scheduled, it’s in the bottom of the second and the Rangers have runners on the corners with no outs and Adrian Beltre at the plate, and radar shows strong storms – you know, lightning, hail, all the works – are barreling down on the ballpark where 31,000 people are hootin’ and hollerin’ for the Rangers.

“If serious weather is approaching during the game or with fans in the stands, we will take the necessary precautions, first with warnings over the public address system and through the Rangers ushers and staff in the park,” Blake said. “Then, if it is necessary, we will clear the upper deck and potentially the seating bowl depending on the severity.”

There’s about a 55 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms about an hour before the game, and about a 50 percent chance in what would be the early innings.

If the game is postponed, it possibly could be rescheduled as a day game on Wednesday ahead of the regularly scheduled 7:05 p.m. game that night. That seems to make the most sense given this is the Yankees only trip to the Rangers’ home park this season. The Yankees already have a rescheduling conundrum resulting from that April 10 Sunday night rainout in Detroit.

Both teams have Thursday off, but it’s a travel day to Boston for the Yankees. The Rangers stay home Friday to host the Angels that night.

New York won the first game of the series Monday night 3-1 as Yankees’ hurler Nathan Eovaldi flirted with a no-hitter.

Elsewhere around the Majors, rain and thunderstorms may be what’s needed to cool off the red hot Mets. There’s a chance of thunderstorms before the game and a 30 percent chance of rain halfway through the contest. A moderate wind may be blowing in from right field. Overall, it looks pretty good for the Mets to play and keep rolling.

In Washington, wind will be pushing out around 11 mph toward right field. That could mean another blast or two (let’s hope for three) from Bryce Harper before potential thunderstorms move in late in the game.

Rain delayed Monday night’s Pirates vs. Rockies game in Denver for about 30 minutes. Precipitation is expected before Tuesday night’s game, but that should give way to a cool overcast night at Coors Field with the wind blowing in from left field.

There’s little chance of rain in Chicago, but it will be a cool night at Wrigley Field for the Cubbies/Brewers game. Temperatures will be around 45 degrees for the game and feel like the high 30s with wind coming in from left-center field.

Purple Rain

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Dig if you will the picture…

No brooms, just squeegees

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Cardsgroundscrew04-20-2016
Chicago Tribune

That was close.

After jumping out to quasi-comfortable 4-0 lead on the Chicago Cubs Wednesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals endured a 3:21-minute rain delay and an eighth-inning rally from their division rivals before moving on to a 5-3 victory at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals improved to 8-7 on the young season and avoided an embarrassing sweep by the Cubbies, who are determined to wrangle away St. Louis’ perennial division dominance.

The Redbirds scored two runs in each of the first two innings and allowed the Cubs to tally one in the fourth before rain began falling in the top of the seventh with the Cards leading 4-1. Precipitation increased throughout the half inning and after the Cubs’ Matt Szczur popped out in foul territory, umpires called for the tarp.

The rain stuck around for a while, but that gave us a chance to listen Cardinals radio broadcasters Mike Shannon and John Rooney spin a few tales about Bruce Hornsby and a range of other musicians. I particularly liked Shannon’s story about guarding Hornsby’s piano.

I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the Rain Delay Theater gab session.

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The announced Busch Stadium crowd was 43,093, and I’m sure many of the Cardinal faithful stuck around through the storm. Many of us though, stayed dry, cozy and connected through Twitter and MLB TV, including this guy supporting the Cubs.

The rain and delay dragged on and on and on…

And then, about 20 minutes before 6 p.m. St. Louis time…

The game resumed and the Cubs roared back and cut the Cardinals’ advantage to a run, 4-3, in the top of the eighth. The Cards got one back in the bottom half on a Jadier Molina RBI single. Closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the top of the ninth, emphatically slamming the door on the Cubs’ comeback as a light rain continued to trickle.

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Chicago Tribune

It took 2 hours and 40 minutes of actual game time for the Cardinals to earn the win; that’s 41 minutes less than the rain delay.