With the first suspended game in World Series history now scheduled to resume on Wednesday -- after Major League Baseball officials ruled that Tuesday was a no-go -- the implications stretch beyond tickets and travel. The Rays and Phillies have baseball questions to answer with 3 1/2 innings left to play.
It gets interesting right from the top, as Philadelphia will send a pinch-hitter to the plate to open the bottom of the sixth inning. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels' work is done -- manager Charlie Manuel confirmed what was already a formality on Tuesday -- but he would be in line for his fifth victory of the postseason if the Phils could push across a run in the sixth and hold on to the lead for a win. Hamels would be the first starter in postseason history to win five games in five starts.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said on Monday night that Grant Balfour, who pitched the fifth for Tampa Bay after starter Scott Kazmir was pulled, is his pitcher to start the sixth.
"Balfour is still in the game," Maddon said. "The game still has Grant on the lineup card. So as of right now, Grant will be pitching."
But there's an excellent chance that will change quickly.
Most of Philadelphia's dangerous pinch-hitters bat from the left side, most notably Matt Stairs. So Manuel likely will summon a lefty as his first hitter once the game resumes, and Maddon likely would counter with a southpaw on the mound. In fact, Maddon would be wise to warm up a lefty at the same time Balfour warms up.
"Balfour, if he's on the mound, it will more likely be a left-handed hitter," Manuel said Tuesday. "I've got three sitting there. I've got [Geoff] Jenkins, [Greg] Dobbs and Stairs. And more than likely, it will be one of those. If there's a lefty warming up, that might have something to do with it. We'll see how the game develops, what goes on."
Both teams have stocked bullpens, and both 'pens will have plenty of rest. No pinch-hitters have been used, and the switch from Kazmir to Balfour is the only pitching change. So both managers have a full complement of tactical options once the game gets back under way. Both, meanwhile, downplayed the possibility of using a starting pitcher as a reliever in Game 5.
GAME 5 SUSPENSION
|Commissioner Bud Selig cited rule 4.12a, section 6, in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, "a game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date" for a number of reasons, with section 6 specifying "a regulation game that is called with the score tied."|
In this scenario, the rule (4.12c) for suspended games is enacted: "A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."
Prior to the introduction of this rule following the 2006 season, the suspended game would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading 2-1, since Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. But that is no longer the case and therefore Game 5 will resume with the score tied at 2.
So in the practical sense, there's no real advantage going forward. Yet Tampa Bay has to feel on some level that it has pulled something of an escape. The Rays outlasted Hamels, and they're not behind. They may have the starting pitching advantage in Games 6 and 7, should those occur, and they'd also have home field.
"I think everybody would say that, but they're up, 3-1," Rays reliever Trever Miller said. "And those guys that we were supposed to beat, beat us. So I don't consider us favorites. Our backs are still against the wall. Just because we got a game suspended and tied it up, we haven't won that game either. We've got this thing condensed down now to hopefully coming back and playing tomorrow, three innings, the rest of the game, and winning that."
Both of these bullpens are excellent, though Philadelphia has at least one advantage in that it needs three fewer outs. The Phils also have all of their end-of-game options intact, while the Rays do not.
"We do feel good," said Phillies closer Brad Lidge. "But that being said, they have a lot of good pitchers out of their bullpen also. You never know what's going to happen in an unusual situation like this. I feel like we've got the horses to get it done, but I'm sure they do, too. It's going to be tough, but somebody's going to have to scratch out a run."
It all starts with the Rays and Phillies getting to, and through, Game 5. That could be Wednesday -- or later. It could start with Chris Coste against Balfour, and it could start with Stairs facing David Price.
Uncharted waters, indeed.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.