I turned to the Houston Astros last night so as to escape the world of Tropical Storm
Edouard. So what happens? The skies of Chicago open up. Heavy rain. Lightning. Tornado warnings. Wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. And a rain delay of over two and a half hours that came with the Astros up on the Cubs 2-0 after five innings.
Now with the game having gone five innings, it could have been called by the umpires as it was officially official. But when teams are involved in pennant chases, the head baseball honchos are loathe to call a game before it has the chance to go nine innings. So the respective teams were sent back to their clubhouses, fans were evacuated from various parts of the stadium – or so said the weather guys on The Weather Channel – and another fantastic pitching performance by Brian Moehler was wasted.
Or was it?
Tom Byrdak came into pitch the sixth inning, and made it through that inning intact. Geoff Geary needed some defensive help from Carlos Lee of all people, but he made it through the seventh inning, then it started raining again. But not just raining. The sounds of thunder overwhelmed the microphones of Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies as lightning flashes made the game, which was then being played after 11:00 seem like daylight as the Astros batted in the eighth inning.
And when LaTroy Hawkins trotted in to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Astros, Lance Berkman trotted off of the field to remove the metal necklace from around his neck – though it doesn’t make sense, what with Berkman and God being the bestest of buddies you wouldn’t think God would strike him with lightning. It was amazing that the umpires were letting them play – you would think that as the thunder and lightning boomed around the field, the umpires would have pulled the players off of the field for the sake of not only the safety of the players, but also for the safety of the fans in their seats trying to watch the game. Then, with one out in the bottom of the eighth, the umpires pulled the players off of the field, sending the game back into another rain delay.
After another delay of about half an hour, at just about the midnight hour, the umpiring crew called the game, giving the Astros the 2-0 victory. The victory was the fourth straight for the Astros, and their eighth in their last ten games, to improve their record to 54-57. Brian Moehler, who pitched a fantastic five innings, got the win.
Weather permitting – Chicago weather, not Houston weather – the Astros and Cubs play again on Tuesday afternoon with the first pitch set for about 1:20. Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.61) gets the start against Rich Harden (6-2, 2.04).
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
During the seemingly endless rain delay, I spent my time flipping from ESPN to The Weather Channel. And if you were lucky enough to be watching ESPN during any of that time, then you were lucky enough to see one of the millions of replays of the fight in the Milwaukee Brewers dugout between first baseman Prince Fielder and starting pitcher Manny Parra.
The fun didn’t come from the fight, which was enjoyable, but from watching the various talking heads on ESPN, primarily Buck Showalter and John Kruk, try to explain what happened even though they clearly had no idea what happened. Nobody had any idea of what was said. Or what caused it. Or who started it. But they sure knew that it meant nothing, or that it meant everything, or that it might actually be a good thing for the Brewers.
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****************** I can understand his reaction, but damn, one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years was the replay of Lance Berkman running off of the field right before the umpires called for the eighth inning rain delay. There was a loud burst of thunder and lightning illuminated the field. Berkman, who was in a semi-crouch at first, jumped, almost fell to the ground, regained his balance, then sprinted off of the field toward the dugout, followed closely by catcher Humberto Quintero. It was this point that the umpire crew chief Wally Bell called for another rain delay.
****************** In case you were doing more important things last night, like following Edouard, the action in Chicago kind of looked like this scene from the classic Wesley Snipes/Robert DeNiro baseball thriller The Fan.
-- John Royal