Phillies left the field in a bad mood

Posted: October 29, 2008

The Phillies were more than just a little ornery when they left their clubhouse Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

They were steamed.

They couldn't grasp how Major League Baseball waited until the middle of the sixth inning to finally suspend Game 5 of the World Series, when conditions had become unplayable an inning earlier. With monsoonlike conditions and the infield looking more like a pool (or a pond), the Tampa Bay Rays scored the tying run in the top of the sixth inning before the grounds crew mercifully pulled the tarp onto the field.

"I was upset with some of the things that went on," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday during a teleconference with reporters. "But I definitely agreed with everything that happened, and I also agreed that the game definitely had to be stopped. The conditions were definitely unplayable. . . . I think they could have stopped when [the field] started showing water on it at different times. They chose to stop it when they did."

Major League Baseball, which postponed Game 5 again last night because of inclement weather, plans to continue it in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 2-2 tie at 8:37 tonight.

Weather permitting, of course.

The Phillies lead the best-of-seven series, three games to one.

There are no plans for an off-day for travel after Game 5. If Game 5 is played tonight and the Rays win, Game 6 would be played tomorrow night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Game 7, if necessary, would be played Friday in St. Petersburg.

The weather forecast for today called for a 30 percent chance of rain with temperatures dropping into the low 30s during the game.

"We are closely monitoring tomorrow's forecast and will continue to monitor the weather on an hourly basis," commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday in a statement. "We will advise fans as soon as we are able to make any final decisions with respect to tomorrow's game."

Fans holding tickets to Game 5 should use them for reentry tonight. Fans with parking passes or receipts from Monday should use them for reentry. Fans who don't have those passes or receipts must pay to park, although fans are encouraged to take public transportation because the 76ers play at 6 tonight at the Wachovia Center.

Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

The Rays couldn't feel better about their situation, all things considered. They will arrive at the ballpark knowing that the best pitcher in the postseason, Cole Hamels, is out of the game. They also saw signs that Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, a combined 0 for 29 in the first four games of the World Series, were breaking out of their funks with three hits Monday.

The Rays seem to have unexpected momentum for team that trails in the Series.

"I think us coming back like we did and sitting on it for a day or two possibly could weigh in our favor a little bit," Rays manager Joe Maddon said yesterday in a teleconference with reporters. "I'm not sure yet."

Can the Phillies get past their obvious frustration and focus on the task at hand? Or will their irritation affect them on the field tonight in what feels more like a shoot-out in hockey or sudden-death overtime in football than a baseball game that could bring the Phillies their first World Series championship since 1980?

"I know we're going to be ready to play," Manuel said. "We come to the ballpark and we're going to concentrate on winning tomorrow's game. That's all that's important to us. That's all we're thinking about. We've got 31/2 innings of baseball. We get to bat four times. They get to bat three. We get 12 outs. They get nine. We are definitely coming with the mind-set that we're going to win that game.

"I'll go around tomorrow and I'll talk to all of our players. I'll get a feel for what they're thinking. And I'll look them in the eye and talk about things, and we'll make sure that we're ready to go. I don't think there's going to be any problem at all. I think that we've been resilient now for the last couple years, and I think we know exactly where we're going and what we want to do. We're going to be ready."

The Rays spent yesterday in Wilmington because they had checked out of their hotel in Philadelphia on Monday and found no rooms available in the city. Players had the option of going to the ballpark to receive treatment or hit in the batting cage, if they felt the need. The Phillies also weren't required to show up at the Bank, although some did.

Maddon has had no problem remaining upbeat.

"I came down this morning to get the coffee, and there were a bunch of Rays folks down there having a good time," he said. "There were families and a bunch of kids still with us. It was one of those moments when the organization comes together."

Manuel spoke confidently, too.

"All year long we've been in a situation where we can control our destiny," he said. "And it's no different. It's up to us to stay focused and definitely stay focused on tomorrow's game, to win that game. And if something happens and if we don't get the job done or something, I have no complaints at all, because it's in our hands. It's all up to us to do it."

It's also up to the weather.


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