Just short of five hours after the scheduled first pitch of the Cubs/Pirates game Monday night, the word came that there was too much rain and the game would have to be postponed.
This is unfortunate, not only because the teams will now have to squeeze an additional game into a tight September schedule, but because the teams had played four innings to a 1-1 tie. Under current baseball rules, if the game had gone one more inning and stayed at that score, it could have been suspended and completed before Tuesday's game instead of having all its stats washed out and having to start over.
Over the years, at least since PNC Park opened in 2001, I can't remember any city outside Chicago where the Cubs have had more rain delays and postponements than Pittsburgh. That makes it even more unusual that this is the Pirates' first postponed game this year, while the Cubs have now had five (three at Wrigley Field, one at Cincinnati, and this one).
It does raise the question: should MLB consider suspending games that have gone this far, without becoming official? If so, where do you draw the line? Four innings? Three? One pitch? There were three hours and 29 minutes worth of rain delay in this game (in addition to a few minutes' delay in starting, which apparently wasn't counted in that 3:29). That means the four innings took about an hour and a half to complete, which is longer than usual for four innings.
The Cubs scored a run in the third inning on three singles, then gave it back in the bottom of the inning when Rafael Soriano (why was he in the game in the first place?) allowed a double to Michael Morse, who later scored. None of this counts, nor do the two nice defensive plays by David Ross, who threw out Andrew McCutchen trying to steal and later picked ex-Cub Aramis Ramirez off first base.
Jon Lester, who threw just 31 pitches in almost two full innings, might lobby to start on Thursday against the Giants:
Lester said he asked Maddon to consider moving him up in the rotation because he threw only 1 2/3 innings. He currently is scheduled to pitch Saturday, and moving his start up to Thursday would affect Kyle Hendricks, who is scheduled to pitch that day. But Lester was mindful of his teammates. "I don’t want to move guys around, just to move guys around because I want to pitch because of what happened," Lester said.
This makes sense. Lester's turn would still come up against the Giants in that important series, so there's probably no need to switch him around. Lester showed some humor in talking about lobbying Joe Maddon to stay in the game after the first rain delay:
"Like ‘I’ve always said – (Maddon) is the manager, and it’s his decision. You can argue with him all you want. But at the end of the day, it’s like arguing with your dad. You’re not going to change his mind."
Now, about a makeup date. As I posted on Twitter last night:
#Cubs and #Pirates have a common off day 9/14, just before next series between the teams at PNC. Possible makeup date— Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue) August 4, 2015
That would make sense, but (from the Tribune link above):
The Cubs return to PNC Park on Sept. 15-17. There is an off-day on Sept. 14, but that would force the Pirates to play on 30 consecutive days and necessitate approval by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
In situations like this one, the MLBPA often does waive the 20-consecutive-day limit. I'd think the players would rather do this than have another split doubleheader, which no one likes as it makes for 14-hour days at the ballpark and taxes bullpens. The Cubs have already lost off days on August 24 (makeup game against the Indians) and September 28 (makeup game against the Royals), although they still have off days the next two Mondays, as well as September 3 and 24. September 14, though, is the Pirates' only off day that month. We'll see what they eventually do.
The Cubs got good news while waiting out the rain when the Giants blew a 6-0 lead against the Braves and lost 9-8 in 12 innings. The Giants took a one-run lead in the ninth and 12th innings and lost anyway. This result puts the Cubs half a game ahead of the Giants for the second wild card entering Tuesday night's action.
This abbreviated now-two-game series picks up Tuesday night. Jake Arrieta will start for the Cubs and new acquisition J.A. Happ for the Pirates.