Orioles manager Buck Showalter offered praise for the Camden Yards grounds crew and the umpiring crew following tonight’s soggy 4-3 victory over the Angels.
The rain delay lasted 2 hours, 14 minutes. The game itself lasted 2 hours, 23 minutes. At one point, it seemed highly unlikely that it would resume in the bottom of the sixth as the rain came down in buckets and the field was under water.
“What a job the grounds crew did. When they put the tarp out there, you wouldn’t like the chances there,” Showalter said.
“That’s the good thing about having (umpire) Joe (West). Joe’s been doing this a long time. He knows.”
The infield was so slick, Nick Markakis almost slid past second base on Chris Davis’ fielder’s choice grounder in the sixth inning.
“I was a little worried about Nick, but he said it was like Slip ‘N Slide in high school,” Showalter said. “He just kept going. He said he enjoyed it. Do you all remember Slip ‘N Slide? Do they still have that? You’ve all been on Slip ‘N Slide. Don’t act like you haven’t.”
Confession time: I never owned one and I never played on one as a kid. Truth.
Asked if he was concerned about player safety, Showalter replied, “Sure, everybody is. And you know who’s concerned about it the most is the umpiring crew. It got to the point where it wasn’t playable and we stopped it. The mound was in pretty good shape. That was a good thing. And one of the tough things for our park has been the rubberized plastic (warning track), and that gets real slick, so tonight having that dirt there and the stuff they put down really soaks up the water. It didn’t even puddle. That made it a lot safer than it has been in the past.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Joe and his crew and he’ll stop it when it’s right, but he’s trying to be fair. We had to get them out in the top of the sixth and he’s trying to make them get us out in the bottom of the sixth, but it got to the point there where we couldn’t finish the inning. I knew at the time. I told the players when they came in, ‘Hey, we’re going to play around 11, 11:30, so keep yourselves ready.’ “
A pool reporter asked West why he decided to stop the game with two outs in the sixth.
“It wasn’t raining too hard to play when we stopped,” West said. “The field was getting unplayable. And that’s why we stopped.
“We knew that big burst was coming, we just didn’t know when. But when the guy (Markakis) slid into second base, and the infielder was slipping and the runner was slipping, I just walked out to (Jered) Weaver and said, ‘We’ve got to fix the field, we’re going to have to stop.’ He said, ‘You’re right. It’s too wet.’ And that’s when we stopped.
“We met before the game with the Orioles and we all agreed, everyone agreed we could play before the big storm. We didn’t have to play afterward. Because they were debating whether to start or not start. We decided to start and, hell, we got a complete game in, technically, by the time the rains (really) started. And it got bad. You have to commend the grounds crew and everybody that worked on it because they never get enough credit. Without them we wouldn’t have played.”
Was there any thought given to ending the game?
“No,” West said. “We’ve done this before. What did the (grounds crew) say? He said, ‘I need an hour.’ And I said, ‘You have 40 minutes.’ “
Freddy Garcia held the Angels to two runs over six innings before the delay forced him out of the game.
“We were a little short in the ‘pen tonight from a long standpoint, especially against the lineup they run out there,” Showalter said. “Freddy’s pitched some good games for us. I’m sure he’d be the first to say he’d like to be a tad more consistent, but we’re lucky to have him with the injuries we have.
“If I asked him to go pitch an inning in relief tomorrow, he’d be ready. I don’t know how he’d do. It wasn’t tempting to run him back out there, but he would have and not batted an eye. He’s a pro. That’s why he’s been pitching so long.”
The Orioles took advantage of the elements to take a 4-2 lead in the sixth and line up Garcia for the victory. Nate McLouth reached on an infield hit, stole second and raced home on Manny Machado’s single and right fielder Josh Hamilton’s fielding error.
“We had to get them out, and they had to get us out,” Showalter said. “It got worse as it went on. The field can just take so much. I don’t know how many people would have attempted to steal a base with those conditions. Those are some things at the end of the night you go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive.’ Nate stealing a base in that situation. A lot of guys would just use the excuse of wet grounds and not gone. But I think he felt like (Weaver) wouldn’t come over because he didn’t think (McLouth) would be going.”
The Angels scored once off Tommy Hunter in the top of the seventh, but they left the bases loaded after Ryan Flaherty fielded Mark Trumbo’s bouncer up the middle and threw across his body for the out. Flaherty was equally impressive in the fourth while turning a double play with Trumbo sliding hard into the bag.
“Great play,” Showalter said of the out that Flaherty recorded to end the seventh. “Turned a tough double play, too, with the feed and a guy right on top of him. Could have been the difference in the game in a lot of ways. It’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Adam Jones homered in the fourth and drove in three runs tonight.
“I think Adam hit a changeup,” Showalter said. “It was back-to-back changeups, one of the few mistakes Weaver made and we didn’t let him get away with it. And Nicky had a big walk there. Hard guy to walk off.
“It seems like about three days ago, doesn’t it?”