St. Louis Cardinals

No speech, no win

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Cards-Jose-Martinez-OD-2017
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As a baseball weather blogger, it’s tempting, and somewhat predictable, to lead off with this and that about the White Sox-Tigers Opening Day game and festivities getting rained out and rescheduled.

However, the indelible images of rain dousing Cubs and Cardinals players – and fans at the ballpark – the night before are hard to ignore.

Just before Cardinals’ closer Seung Hwan Oh let a 3-0 advantage slip away in the top of the ninth, the clouds above unleashed a steady rain down on Busch Stadium. The game played on, however, and the home team grabbed the victory, 4-3, when Randall Grichuk singled to left in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Jose Martinez.

Cards fans went home – or someplace – wet and happy.

“Speechless,” Grichuk, not being speechless at all, said after the game. “Obviously, doing it against our Central rival, the Cubs, who won it last year, that adds to it. It’s just a night I won’t forget.”

Before opening night, the last game the Cubs had played was Game 7 of the World Series, which featured a rain delay, a speech and a memorable comeback that gave the Chicago side its first World Series title since – ah, you know all that 108 years stuff.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked if he considered prompting Jayson Heyward, or anyone wearing Cubbie blue, to rouse the team with another speech, even if it was just game one of 162.

“Believe me, I thought about it,” Maddon said. “That’s our method, is to have a little bit of rain. We just didn’t have a team meeting.”

As for Chicago’s American League team – you know, the one whose Opening Day was spoiled by rain – they made up the game Tuesday, an originally scheduled off day, against Detroit. The Tigers bested the Wet White Sox, 6-3.

Monday’s game was called after an hour and 41-minutes after the 3:10 p.m. first pitch time.

And… this just in: Today’s games between the Cubs and Cardinals in St. Louis and Tigers and White Sox in Chicago have been called because of rain.The Cardinals and Cubs series finale has been re-scheduled for 12:45 p.m. local Thursday.

The Cardinals and Cubs series finale has been rescheduled for 12:45 p.m. local Thursday.

Heavy rain, wind and forecasted 40-degree temperatures forced the postponed of the White Sox-Tigers game. They’ll make it up as part of a doubleheader May 26.

Heavy rain, wind and forecasted 40-degree temperatures forced the postponed of the White Sox-Tigers game. They’ll make it up as part of a doubleheader May 26.

The two teams are scheduled to play Game 2 of the series in Chicago Thursday, but at this rate, it’s not guaranteed. (I’m resisting the urge to point out the play on words in that last sentence. You’re smart; you’ll get it.)

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.

CardsRainMolinaRosenthal
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.

Bottom of the sixth (Not the Rockwell painting)

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Moments after the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia struck out swinging in the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday night, umpires motioned for the tarp as a hard rain peppered Minnesota’s Target Field.

As it turned out, that was the last baseball act of the night between the Twins and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. After a lengthy 2:06-minute rain delay – the game lasted just 2:21 – umpires consulted with managers of both squads and called the contest, giving the Twins a 7-4 victory, their fourth in a row.

Rain had poured well before the tarp was placed on the field, and had it stopped, more time would have been needed to allow the field to dry. That’s time neither team had, particularly with game two of the series scheduled for 12:10 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

“The umpires were in a tough spot tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the game. “It wasn’t going to stop raining, the severity of it. They did a good job and they held off as long as they could. It just gets to a point where it’s not going to stop and you’ve got to decide where you’re going to put the players out there, and they just decided not to do it.”
The forecast for Monday night’s game predicted a good chance of rain, and a pre-game tweet from the Brewers showed menacing clouds hanging over the teams’ batting practice.

What was left of the announced crowd of 21,078 weren’t left to sit bored and soaked in their seats. The Target Field staff put on the scoreboard the Stanley Cup playoff game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. The Wild won 5-3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

The forecast for Tuesday’s game calls for a 46 percent chance of rain at first pitch and through 2 p.m. The rain chance dips to about 37 percent at 2 p.m.

Elsewhere… Looking at the forecast for the Cubs and Cardinals tonight in St. Louis shows a 54 percent chance of rain at the time Jaime Garcia is scheduled to throw out the first pitch for the home team. I’m not into making weather predictions on games… ah, what the heck? Who’s going to call me on it if I’m wrong? I’m saying the start of the game will be delayed by at least 25 minutes.

Opening Day is here! (with exceptions)

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The New York Yankees have waited since October to get another crack at Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel.

The rematch of last year’s American League Wild Card game, in which Kuechel dominated Yankees hitters and won 3-0, was scheduled to happen today in the Bronx, Opening Day for the two clubs and most of Major League Baseball.

However, a slight rain was falling in New York this morning and there is about 75 percent chance it would continue at 1 p.m. when Masahiro Tanaka was scheduled to toss the first pitch for the Yankees. Weather projections have the chance of rain up to 100 percent at 3 p.m.

The game has been postponed until 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, giving the Yankees one more day to figure out that baffling Kuechel fella. The New York batters failed to score a run off the lefty in the 22 innings they faced him in 2015.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland…

Snow could be flying around Progressive Field today when the Cleveland Indians host the Boston Red Sox at 4:10 p.m. Temperatures will be around 33 but feel like 23 at game time.

It could be worse. The game could be in Boston…

Orioles fans may want to pack ponchos for today’s opener against the Twins at Camden Yards. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. That’s also about the time rain could hit the area, about an 80 percent chance. That goes up to near 100 percent at 4 p.m.

Everything else, weather wise, looks nice around the league. Sunday marked the official start of the 2016 MLB season with three games. No weather problems, but Pirates fans at PNC Park welcomed the new season with 39 degree temperatures at the ballpark.

UPDATE: As snow blows around the ballpark and temperatures feel like December at a Browns game, the game between the Indians and Red Sox today in Cleveland has been postponed. The game is scheduled to be made up Tuesday at 1:10 p.m.

Can Dusty make it reign in Washington?

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DustyBaker01It’s down to Dusty and Bud.

It’s Bud. He’s our guy!

No, wait. It’s Dusty.

Last week as the World Series wrapped up, news breaking out of Washington about who the Nationals intended to hire as the team’s next manager left us confused as Yoenis Cespedes in the center field.

But things were sorted out over a couple of days, and we learned that indeed Dusty Baker had been hired as the team’s sixth manager. I have to admit, I never was excited about Bud Black, and in the beginning, I was even less excited about Baker.

You know, all the chatter about Dusty ruining pitchers’ arms and despising on-base percentage will do that to a fella.

The more I heard Dusty speak, however, the more I liked the idea of him managing my Washington Nationals. Listening to Dusty speak will do that to a fella, ya know.

For The Rainout Blog, I thought it would be fun to go back through the years of Dusty’s managing days with the Cubs, Giants and Reds to see if I can find any evidence of how he managed his starting pitchers through those days when bad weather delayed games in the early innings and he had to make the tough decision to go with his starter or give the ball to a long reliever.

That information might be tough to find, but I still wanted to give it a modest go. I’m not going to spend days on this.

So, I Googled “Dusty Baker rain,” thinking that was a good place to start. I’ll probably find nothing, I thought, in the 10 minutes I’m allotting myself on this, likely, fruitless endeavor.

The first item to pop up in the search was this MLB.com story from 2011, when Dusty was managing in Cincinnati. The headline read: “Dusty Baker still seeing Red over rain delay.”

Jackpot!

My 10 minutes were competed in less than 10 seconds.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the article in case, for some reason, you’re not into reading about baseball rain delays as much as I am: Early in the 2011 season, the Reds were playing the Cardinals in St. Louis. A large storm was approaching the area. The home team Cardinals decided to go with a reliever instead of their scheduled starter. Dusty claims he wasn’t given sufficient information regarding the approaching storm – it turned out to be a pretty bad storm around the area – and went ahead with his starting pitcher for the day. Six pitches into the game, rains came and the game was delayed 2 hours and 10 minutes. The Cardinals, after starting a reliever, brought in to pitch their originally scheduled starter after the rain delay. Dusty got mad.

Was there a lack of communications on the Cardinals end?

“I lost my pitcher. And we lost the game,” Baker said the night after his Reds lost the delayed game 4-2 to the Cardinals. “I was upset because we still had action on winning that game, plenty of action.”

One of the positives you hear about Dusty is he’s a players manager who will fight for his team. You would think that would be a basic element of Baseball Managing 101, but as we’ve all learned thought the years of watching the game, it simply isn’t basic at all.

Dusty has taken each team he has managed to the playoffs, and he’s going to do a good job in Washington.

Yeah, I’m still bullish on this team.

None of us are certain who all will be on the field and in the dugout when the Nationals open the 2016 season, but I’m confident Dusty will get the most out whomever is wearing the Curly W… rain or shine.

Phil Collins is the opposite of the fat lady

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New York Post
Photo: New York Post

I hate to say it…

To my 9-year-old son who’s just learning about the ebbs and flows of following a professional baseball team.

To all of you fans of Chicago’s lovable losers.

But here goes…

It’s over, Cubs fans. It’s over.

I know it. You know it. Marty McFly knows it.

Despite winning 97 games this season – who’d a thunk it? Despite Jake Arrieta’s masterful mound performances. Despite the six home-runs to bury your more successful nemesis from St. Louis in the NLDS game at Wrigley. Despite the good feeling you had – we all had – about your team, 2015 is not the year you break the Curse of the billy goat and – good golly this is ridiculous – forgive Steve Bartman.

Tonight the Cubbies face elimination from the NLDS and this magical season. The Mets –  yep, the Mighty Mets of Gotham with the Dark Knight and Thor and whatever super hero nickname you want to assign to Jacob deGrom and Daniel Murphy – are poised to take the series in only four games. And they’re making it look easy.

The situation is dire for the Cubs.

In trying to grasp some hope, you can think back to 2004 when the Boston Red Sox, who in a similar situation of trailing three games to zero to the Yankees in the ALCS – roared back to win the next four games and ultimately the World Series, breaking their 86-year curse supposedly put on by Babe Ruth.

(With the Babe, I’m guessing there was a woman who gave him the idea. George always had a woman involved, and I don’t think he could have thought of cursing the Sox on his own. Am I right?)

Just win the next one, we’ve heard Cubs Manager Joe Maddon say after each defeat. “We need to put together several one-game winning streaks,” Maddon repeated after Monday night’s Game 3 loss.

Now, the Cubs have to win the next one, which is tonight in Wrigley, or there is no next one. Not until spring training in March. And then, who cares?

I want the Cubs to win tonight to, if nothing else, keep the dream alive for excitable Cubs fans, like my son, and the series going for one more day. Heck, if the Mets win and the Royals are victorious in the Junior Circuit championship today, we’ll have to go five days without a game until baseball resumes with the World Series next Tuesday.

And, of course, there’s one more way the series can extend to another day: Yep, a rainout.

It looks like there’s a small chance of delaying game 4 until Thursday. The forecast is calling for a 50 percent chance of showers in Chicago when the first pitch is thrown tonight and a 35 percent chance through midnight.

Midnight could be interesting for Cubs fans tonight. When it strikes, will their team have survived to play another day or will their Cinderella season turn into a giant pumpkin?

Or, will the game be called because of rain?

Either way, as the great Phil Collins used to sing: “Give me just one more night.”

Windy City Bombers

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USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The Cubbies put on a sensational display of power Monday night, slamming six home runs to take Game 3, 8-6, and ultimately a 2-1 NLDS lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was a windy night at Wrigley Field, and it looks to be the same for tonight’s Game 4. The forecast for the late afternoon contest calls for temperatures to be in the low 60s and winds at about 10 mph, blowing out toward right field.

Take a look at the Wrigley Field street cam and you can see how wind is moving the flags attached to the front of the ballpark.

So, with the wind blowing baseballs around again tonight, how many dingers can the Cubs hit in Game 4? Or, will it be the Cardinals’ turn to pepper the Wrigley Field seats?

Or both?

Both would be fun.