Indians' home opener snowed out

Indians' home opener snowed out

CLEVELAND -- In the end, all that remained from the Indians' ill-fated attempts at a home opener Friday were the disappointed die-hards in the stands, a frustrated pitcher, an injured catcher and, yes, a whole bunch of snow.

A homecoming holiday it was not.

One strike away from an official game and, perhaps, a victory over the Mariners, the Indians saw their former skipper -- a man once referred to as the "Human Rain Delay" -- put a human snow delay on the proceedings at Jacobs Field.

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove charged out to the field with the bases loaded, two out and a 1-2 count on Jose Lopez in the top of the fifth inning and convinced umpire crew chief Rick Reed to put a halt to the snow-covered ballgame, which the Indians led, 4-0, behind an impressive performance from Paul Byrd.

Tribe manager Eric Wedge tried to present a counter argument, but Hargrove got his way. One hour and 17 minutes later, the game was called for good. It is scheduled to be replayed in its entirety at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader.

"We obviously ended up on the south side of things," Wedge said. "Everybody was fighting for what they wanted and what they believed was the right thing to do."

The Indians had plenty to fight for. Not only was a victory on the line, but Byrd had fought through three other snow delays to pitch 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball.

"Hopefully that doesn't get lost in the shuffle," Wedge said. "Paul Byrd pitched a great ballgame."

But the history books will say otherwise, for this day's action and ensuing statistics are nullified.

Pardon the Indians, though, if they wish they could wipe away one aspect of the game that will most assuredly linger. Starting catcher Victor Martinez came out in the bottom of the third inning after suffering a strained left quadriceps while running to first.

To answer the deep, philosophical question of whether an injury that occurs in a game that doesn't count really did take place, the answer is an unfortunate yes. As a result, Martinez might be headed to the disabled list.

So no good came from a day in which the Indians' bravest fans strapped on their snowsuits and poured into the seats of The Jake. And the few faithful who stuck it out to the bitter end were rewarded only with the news that the home opener had been snowed out for the first time since 2003.

In the aftermath, Wedge, who likely spent more of his day studying the weather reports than he did the lineups, was asked if this game should have been played at all.

"In retrospect," he said, "I'll just say the weather didn't play out like we anticipated."

The anticipated start time of 4:05 p.m. was pushed back 57 minutes because of the snow, which had been persistently pummeling the area all afternoon. Had it not been the home opener, and had the Mariners been scheduled to come to Cleveland again this season, it's doubtful this game would have gotten off the ground at all.

"We met with everyone before the game, and we decided to move the game back," Reed told a pool reporter from The Associated Press. "We met again on the field after the first or second delay ... realizing the gate would be in jeopardy, the home opener would have to be replayed and the biggest factor involved is that this is Seattle's only trip here. Therefore, we had to try to get the game in, if we could."

And oh, how they tried.

One full inning was played, with the Indians grabbing a 1-0 lead on an unearned run, before the second delay, at 5:29 p.m.

At 5:51 p.m., the two teams reported back on the field, and Byrd threw one pitch to Raul Ibanez before the game was delayed again -- this time for 17 minutes.

When play resumed at 6:09 p.m., the game actually began to pick up some momentum. The Indians took their 4-0 lead with three more unearned runs off Horacio Ramirez in the third.

The conditions cleared up from time to time, but the snow flurries made their presence known quite often, and it affected the batters on both sides.

"It got to a point where it was tough to see," said first baseman Ryan Garko, who drove in a run and reached on an error in the third. "It's a white ball and white snow, so you don't want to put anybody in danger."

Byrd was in danger of losing his lead -- not to mention his no-hitter -- when he walked three batters in the top of the fifth. But with the snow picking up steam, he had two outs and two strikes on Lopez and an official game in his grasp.

Then it all fell apart with Hargrove's gamesmanship-laden interjection, which frustrated Byrd, given the timing.

"I'm angry, and I will be tomorrow and the next day," Byrd said. "Maybe we can use this to get a little angry and build off it."

They'll have to build off it by starting all over again.

"It's a tough one to swallow, obviously," Wedge said. "I understand the umpire has a job to do and Grover and I have jobs to do, too. But ultimately, the umpire is going to work hard to try to keep people from being in a dangerous situation."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.