Philadelphia fans had to figure something would go wrong Monday night, though I doubt even they could have anticipated the first suspended postseason game in major league history. The Phillies got within ten outs of their second world championship in Game 5, only to have the Rays tie the game with two outs in the top of the sixth and the umpires call for the tarp after the third out of that frame, after which it rained for 36 hours.
Prior to the 2007 season, Baseball adopted a rule stating that any tie game that is called after becoming official (five innings) would simply be suspended and resumed from the stopping point at a later date just as if it had experience any other extended rain delay. That is what the Rays and Phillies will do tonight, resuming Game 5 in the bottom of the sixth inning at 8:37pm. My preview of what I’m calling Game 5 1/2 is up on SI.com.
Baseball’s rules also state that any game that the home team is winning after 4 1/2 innings is official and will stand as a complete game if called before the completion of nine innings. That conjurs the surreal thought of the Phillies clinching their first world championship in 28 years while sitting around in the Citizens Bank Park clubhouse when the game was officially called several hours after the last out of the fifth had been recorded. However, Commissioner Bud Selig said that, even if the Rays had not tied the game in the top of the sixth, he would not have allowed a World Series game to end without all nine innings being played. Still, no matter what happens from here on out, whether the Phillies clinch in three innings tonight, or the Rays battle back and push the Series back to Florida, it’s going to feel weird.
If the Rays do pull out a victory tonight, the Series will move back to Florida tomorrow for Game 6, with Game 7 to follow on Friday (though the latter hasn’t been made official just yet). Should the Rays win again tomorrow, the Phillies will have the option of pitching Hamels again in Game 7 on three-day’s rest. The Phillies have thus far been reluctant to start Hamels on short rest, but since he threw just 75 pitches on Monday night, one would think he would indeed get the call in a rescheduled Game 7. I suppose that’s only fair, as Hamels’ start was artificially shortened on Monday night with the Phillies one run and nine outs from the championship.
Had this game been played just two years ago, the cancellation of the game with the score tied after five innings would have required the entire game to be replayed from the start, essentially wiping out Game 5, along with its starting pitchers, and replacing it with Game 6. That sort of thing has happened thrice in World Series play, but not since 1922, when the Yankees and Giants played to a ten-inning tie in a Game 2 that was called on account of “darkness” (there were suspicions that the game was called early in order to enable the financial windfall of an extra game, so Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had the Game 2 profits turned over to charity). Games in the 1912 and 1907 Series were also called due to darkness. In each of those three instances, the games were declared official ties rather than replayed, though that distinction is purely a book-keeping one.