Baker still seeing Red over rain delay
Latest event adds to already intense division rivalry
ST. LOUIS -- One day later, Reds manager Dusty Baker is still bothered by how weather information was passed along to the Reds in Friday's rain-delayed series opener with the Cardinals."I lost my pitcher. And we lost the game," Baker said Saturday, one night after a 4-2 Reds loss. "I was upset because we still had action on winning that game, plenty of action." Baker was referring to the Reds going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. That ultimately lost his team the game. But it was how the game was started that also brought irritation. The game started on time at 7:16 p.m. CT, but was halted six pitches in after about two minutes for a two-hour, 10-minute rain delay. Shortly before the game, the Cardinals announced that reliever Miguel Batista would start in place of Kyle McClellan. The Reds planned to use Edinson Volquez, who was already warmed up. When play did resume, the Cardinals switched back to McClellan while the Reds were unable to go to Volquez. Reliever Matt Maloney took the spot start. Baker was unhappy about the turn of events. Had the club known the start of the game might be compromised so quickly, it never would have warmed up Volquez. The umpires at home plate had told him just before first pitch told him they had a gap of about 45 minutes before the storms would hit. "You can't fault the umpires. They told me we have a window here," Baker said. By Major League rules, the home team can make the call on whether to have a rain delay or play before the start time. Once the game is underway, umpires have total control. McClellan told reporters that he was informed about an hour before game time that Batista was starting because of the arriving storms. Baker said they learned of the switch about 15 minutes before the game. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa insisted there was no chicanery going on from St. Louis. "The information that we had is the same information the Reds had," La Russa said on Saturday. "They said there was a window of 45 minutes to an hour, and C.J. [St. Louis traveling secretary C.J. Cherre] talked to two different people with the Reds and said, 'Look, they're not going to start their guy when we're only going to play a short amount of time.' There was a big enough window where you get ... You just don't want to burn the starter. "Around 6:40, 6:45, they said, 'Look, we're going to start on time.' I said, 'Well, we're going to start Batista, and 'C.J. be sure and let them know that's what we're going to do.'" Severe weather hit St. Louis hard, with tornadoes touching down throughout the region, including at Lambert Airport. "Most of the guys down here had no idea how potentially dangerous the situation could have been," Baker said of his players. Cherre and Busch Stadium director of operations Mike Bertani provided the weather information to both clubs. "The only thing that happened was that right around 7 o'clock, somebody called to say it was raining at [interstate] 270 and it was coming," La Russa said. "They didn't stop the game. [It] didn't make any difference. We were going to start Batista. Then you give the ball to the umpires, and all of a sudden, five minutes later, it's raining. But that didn't have anything to do with Batista or McClellan." Baker was asked if the Reds might consider taking the matter up with Major League Baseball or file a complaint. "I haven't talked to Walt [Jocketty, the Reds' general manager] about it yet," Baker said. "What can MLB do, forfeit the game? Give it back to us?" Baker, of course, knew there was no chance that would happen and there is no such precedent. Later through a Reds spokesman, Jocketty said he has no plans to contact Major League Baseball.
The situation was just another twist to the ever-growing rivalry between the Reds and Cardinals.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Matthew Leach contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.