Tigers-Indians postponed, might be made up Monday

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
The tarp covers the infield at Comerica Park on Thursday morning ahead of the Tigers' scheduled 1:10 p.m. series finale against the Indians.

Detroit — Ron Colangelo, vice president of communications for the Tigers, was walking with his luggage into the clubhouse just after 11 a.m. Thursday. On the way, he passed a reporter who was on his way out.

“What?” Colangelo said with a smirk. “Do you have a boat?”

The heavy rains and severe flooding came and went, but the game never had a chance.

The Tigers and Indians waited 4 hours 13 minutes — longer than all but three games they’ve played this season — before deciding to pull the plug on what was supposed to be the series finale and Tigers home finale.

The game will be made up Monday afternoon — if necessary.

It’s could be necessary with the Indians still positioning for playoff seeding and the Tigers one game out of the second wild card.

Tigers officials said more than 6 inches of rain fell at Comerica Park the last two days, and though there was believed to be a brief opening later Thursday night, it would have taken nearly two hours from that point to get the field in safe playing condition and allow the players to warm up.

The Tigers will push Thursday’s scheduled starter, Daniel Norris, to tonight in the series opener against the Braves. Jordan Zimmermann will start Saturday and Justin Verlander on Sunday.

That would put rookie Michael Fulmer in line to start Game 162 and get a second crack at qualifying for the American League ERA title.

Several Tigers players, coaches and officials found themselves battling the elements to get to Comerica Park on time for the 1:10 scheduled start Thursday. Most didn’t. Asked if he had taken attendance, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “the fewer the better.”

Ausmus said he received several phone calls and texts, including Nick Castellanos and pitching coach Rich Dubee. None, however, were stuck in the floods. And, Ausmus wasn’t worried about any players not making it for a 1:10 p.m. game time.

“I’m not really concerned about it because I don’t think the game’s going to start on time,” Ausmus said. “They’ll all make it eventually.”

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the first Indians bus was an hour late getting to the park, and the second was scratched. Players planning on taking the second bus had to hail cabs.

Ausmus said he suspected baseball officials, who rule this late in the season whether games will start, would wait as long as they could.

And they did.

Around 1:45 p.m. there seemed to be a ray of hope as the groundscrew pulled the tarp and started working on the field, especially the dirt. They spent about a half-hour on the field.

Then, around 2:20, Ausmus, Indians manager Terry Francona, umpire crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt and head groundskeeper Heather Nabozny walked into the outfield to inspect the conditions.

They weren’t satisfied, and five minutes after they walked off the field, the tarps went back on until the game was called after 5 p.m.

And though it wasn’t raining hard most of the early afternoon, there was a serious safety concern — not just for fans trying to get to a water-logged downtown, but for the players.

Neither team wants to risk injury on a soggy playing field. And it was those field conditions that were the official cause of the postponement.

The rainout, which disappointed several thousand fans who waited out the entire delay, sets up a wild potential scenario for the Tigers. Theoretically, they could play five games in five days in five cities.

“I’m aware of it,” Ausmus said. “One thing at a time. If that’s the scenario, then that’s a good thing.

“It’s a good problem to have.”


Twitter @tonypaul1984