KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The last two times the Kansas City Royals played a postseason game at home, rain fell after the final out. This time, it started well before the first pitch.
Game 3 of the AL Championship Series between the Royals and Baltimore Orioles was postponed Monday because of steady rain that saturated Kauffman Stadium. The game was rescheduled for today at 5:07 p.m..
Along with steady rain, wind gusts of 25 mph were buffeting the ballpark. The forecast for tonight is cold and windy but dry, with weather improving the rest of the week.
“We want a game we know we can get through nine innings, hopefully play dry baseball, not risk player safety or uncomfortable fans,” Major League Baseball Senior Vice President Peter Woodfork said about 4 hours before the scheduled first pitch.
The Royals, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, will keep former Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on the mound for Game 3. The Orioles will start Wei-Yin Chen, as planned.
After that, rotations become a little murky.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he’ll decide before Tuesday night’s game whether to stick with left-hander Jason Vargas for Game 4 on Wednesday or call for an audible and pitch Game 1 starter James Shields on regular rest. That game is scheduled to start at 4:07 p.m. EDT.
“Guthrie will throw tomorrow, and then we’ll go from there,” Yost said. “Shields can come back or if we feel like we want to give him another day, we can do that, too.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was facing a similar conundrum. Miguel Gonzalez was slated to start Game 4, but Chris Tillman could return on regular rest. He opposed Shields when the Royals beat the Orioles in extra innings in the series opener.
“He’s on normal rest, so yeah, he’s an option,” Showalter said. “That’d be five (days), right? But I wouldn’t commit to anything right now other than Chen and see where we are.”
It’s not a slam-dunk decision for Yost and Showalter to go with their aces. Shields and Tillman struggled Friday night, neither lasting past the fifth inning.
“We’re still getting our arms wrapped around it,” Showalter said.
If needed, Game 5 would start at 1:07 p.m. on Thursday. Games 6 and 7 would return to Baltimore and be played Friday and Saturday, as scheduled.
“Our teams are used to play consecutive games in a row,” Woodfork said. “Hopefully it will not have a negative impact on the clubs.”
Rain had been in the forecast for the first two games of the ALCS at Camden Yards, but both games were played without delay. The Royals won the first 8-6 in 10 innings, and Alcides Esocbar’s go-ahead double in the ninth inning boosted them to a 6-4 victory Saturday.
Since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1985, all 11 teams that have won the first two games of a league championship series on the road reached the World Series.
That doesn’t seem to have put a damper on the Orioles’ confidence.
“We’ve played two close games that have gone their way. We’ve had our chances,” Orioles reliever Andrew Miller said. “We can stop their momentum with a win. They stopped ours. They came in and we hadn’t lost in a while. We’ve got to experience that. Now it’s our turn.”
It won’t be easy. With a stingy bullpen and a scrappy offense that has suddenly started to hit home runs, the Royals have won nine straight postseason games dating to Game 5 of the 1985 World Series — three shy of the record shared by two bunches of New York Yankees.
Of the six this year, all but one have been in dramatic fashion.
The Royals beat the A’s in a 12-inning wild-card thriller, after which rain started to pour at Kauffman Stadium. Then they won a pair of 11-inning contests on the road against the Angels in the ALDS before returning home and cruising to an 8-3 series clincher.
Rain started to fall after that game, too.
It’s hard to fault Mother Nature for all her dreary weather, though. She’s not used to the perennially downtrodden Royals still playing games this time of year.
“Whenever a team is hot, you definitely don’t want rainouts or off-days,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It’s just Mother Nature. It’s all part of life. We couldn’t play today, so just come back tomorrow and try to take care of business.”