Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Important delays in World Series history
By David Schoenfield
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday sat at a table in the middle of the Cardinals' clubhouse, signing baseballs. In a light drizzle, Josh Hamilton was playing some long toss, wearing shorts instead of baseball pants. Koji Uehara walked off the field, sweat dripping from his forehead. He's not on the Rangers' active roster, but he has to stay ready in case a teammate gets injured.
Baseball players are creatures of habit, so while Game 6 was called early Wednesday afternoon, players from both teams got in some throwing and a few outfield sprints. Neither team had worked out Tuesday, so the players wanted to get in a little activity before the World Series resumes Thursday.
This one-day delay shouldn't have much of an effect on the lineups for the remainder of the World Series.
As far as rainouts go, this one is pretty inconsequential. The Game 6 starters will remain the same -- Colby Lewis for Texas and Jaime Garcia for St. Louis. Ron Washington said Matt Harrison will be his Game 7 starter if needed, even though Derek Holland would have been an option on four days' rest. Tony La Russa remained noncommittal about his Game 7 starter, but he was noncommittal before the cancellation. The bullpens get an extra day of rest, but both bullpens were in pretty decent shape anyway. The biggest ramification is that Chris Carpenter now becomes a more viable option for Game 7, either to start or in relief.
Some World Series delays have more impact than others. Here are five big ones from the archives:
Game 7, 1986: Red Sox at Mets
Everybody remembers Game 6, but a one-day rainout in New York created even more tension for Game 7. Enigmatic and emotional Oil Can Boyd would have been the Boston starter, but manager John McNamara instead changed to Game 5 starter Bruce Hurst on three days' rest. Hurst had been tremendous that postseason, allowing seven runs in 32 innings for a 1.69 ERA. However, he had thrown 130 pitches in Game 5 (not that managers paid attention back then) and hadn't started on three days' rest all season. Boyd had allowed six runs in seven innings in Game 3.
Mets skipper Davey Johnson stuck with Game 4 starter Ron Darling, now pitching on four days' rest instead of three. Darling got knocked out in the fourth and Hurst took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth but allowed three runs and was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh. Sid Fernandez pitched 2.1 scoreless innings for the Mets, who went on to an 8-6 victory, adding three runs in the seventh off ... yes, Calvin Schiraldi. Would the result have been different if Boyd had started? Oil Can will tell you it would have been.
Game 6, 1975: Reds at Red Sox
One of the most famous games in baseball history was delayed three days by rain. This allowed the Red Sox to bring back ace Luis Tiant for his third start of the World Series. Sparky Anderson went with Game 3 starter Gary Nolan, moving Game 2 starter Jack Billingham to the bullpen. (Nolan's history of shoulder problems made him ill-suited for relief work.) While the Reds lost Game 6 on Carlton Fisk's 12th-inning home run, they were in good position for Game 7, as Don Gullett, their best pitcher, was ready after starting Game 5. The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead off Gullett, who would last only four innings, but Billingham pitched two scoreless innings in relief, a key to Cincinnati's 4-3 comeback victory off Bill Lee and the Boston bullpen.
Game 7, 1925: Senators at Pirates
One of the strangest Game 7s in history was delayed a day by rain, and then played in a steady downpour and fog -- probably the worst conditions ever for a World Series game. Outfielders weren't visible from the press box. The field turned into a muddy quagmire as the rain worsened in the late innings. Senators outfielder Goose Goslin would swear that a key seventh-inning double was foul by 2 feet -- he knew because it stuck in the mud. The extra day of rest didn't help the great Walter Johnson (he was pitching on three days' rest, as there was no off day between Games 5 and 6 that year), and he was left in to allow nine runs and 15 hits, including five runs over the seventh and eighth innings, in a 9-7 loss. Of course, he had to pitch in a rain-soaked wool uniform, landing in mud. (He had the grounds crew put sawdust on the mound more than once.) Two errors by shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh didn't help.
Game 6, 1962: Yankees at Giants
This one was delayed by three days of rain, and Game 5 in New York also had been delayed a day. The teams had played just one game over a seven-day span before Game 6. All the delays meant Whitey Ford started Games 4 and 6 for the Yankees, and Ralph Terry started Games 5 and 7. Considering those two went 40-20 and the rest of the Yankees' staff was just 56-46 that year, this proved key as Terry pitched a 1-0 shutout in Game 7.
Game 3, 1989: A's at Giants
The Loma Prieta earthquake delayed Game 3 for 10 days, so Oakland manager Tony La Russa went back to his starters in the first two games, Dave Stewart and Mike Moore, bypassing Bob Welch. Those two ended up pitching 29 of Oakland's 36 innings in a four-game sweep.