With almost a foot of snow covering Jacobs Field, meeting the goal of a 4:05 local start time rests on the grounds crew’s ability to get the field into playable condition.
On Friday, the Indians’ home opener against Seattle (2-1) was postponed because of snow and low temperatures with Cleveland (2-1) leading 4-0 in the fourth inning. The game was one strike away from being an official game, and a day-night doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday, but even more snow made it impossible to start the game.
A traditional doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday, but by then nearly 10 inches of snow had accumulated on the field, according to the Cleveland Indians’ Web site.
“This is an unbelievable situation,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve had snow, we’ve had cold weather, but not everything at once, backing it up from day to day to day.”
The grounds crew’s job is made even harder by the cold temperature which is keeping the snow from melting. The weather forecast for Monday has temperatures in the mid-30s with light snow expected in the morning. By time the second game is expected to start—20 minutes after the end of the first—temperatures are expected to drop into the upper-20s with even more snow expected.
“The great uncertainty is still the lake-effect (snow) and the weather,” Wedge said. “Until the temperature gets above freezing, we’re not going to be able to do anything. Obviously the field underneath (the snow and the tarp) is iffy, at best, with all this snow and the way everything played out (Friday), trying to get the field ready.”
The teams practiced indoors Sunday as they try to stay loose. Despite the layoff and lack of time on the field, Seattle manager Mike Hargrove doesn’t believe the time off will have too much of an impact on the teams.
“You hate to miss playing time, but we’re getting our work in,” he told the Mariners’ official Web site. “Baseball was meant to be played, not practiced, so you hate to lose that. It’s no more than that.”
If the first game gets underway on Monday, Jeff Weaver will make his Mariners debut. He signed a one-year, $8.325 million deal after spending last season with the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis. The right-hander became the pitcher with the highest regular-season ERA—5.76—to clinch a World Series championship as he helped the Cardinals to their first title since 1982.
Weaver is 5-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 career appearances versus the Indians, and owns a 54-73 career mark in the AL.
Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 4.50 ERA) opposes Weaver, looking to win back-to-back starts to open a season for the first time in his career. Last Monday, the left-hander gave up three runs and eight hits—including two homers — over six innings in the Indians’ 12-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Sabathia scattered seven hits over eight innings in Cleveland’s 2-0 win over Seattle on May 7. In three home starts versus the Mariners, though, he’s 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA, but he hasn’t faced them at Jacobs Field since May 2004.
A slimmed-down Felix Hernandez (1-0, 0.00) will try to build off an impressive season debut when he starts the second game for Seattle.
Hernandez was a disappointing 12-14 with a 4.52 ERA in 31 starts in 2006, but showed up 20 pounds lighter for spring training and was dominant in a season-opening 4-0 win over Oakland on Monday. The right-hander gave up three hits, walked two and struck out a career-high 12.
Cleveland is expected to counter with Fausto Carmona, who enters the starting rotation after a rough rookie season in 2006, when he was used primarily as a reliever. The 23-year-old right-hander went 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 38 appearances—31 out of the bullpen—including an ill-fated stint as closer when he blew three straight save opportunities in late July and early August.
If the teams are unable to get in Monday’s games, they face a big scheduling headache. This is the only time Seattle visits Cleveland this season and the teams only have a few mutual off-days that would make sense for a doubleheader.
“If we can get two games in (Monday), we can still make this work with off days,” Wedge said. “If we don’t play (Monday), obviously we’ve got a drastic situation, as far as making up games and how or if we’re going to be able to do that.”