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Umpire explains tarp snafu, why Royals’ win was called early despite rain ending

Royals manager Matt Quatraro knew there would be a tight window for getting in Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium before the heaviest rain fell.

By the fifth inning, the Royals held a 2-1 lead and there were pools of water on the infield. The Blue Jays didn’t score in their half of the inning, making it an official game. The Royals went out for the bottom of the frame and failed to add to their lead.

When the inning ended, the Royals grounds crew was told by an umpire to bring out the tarp. But Toronto manager John Schneider asked that the game continue, so the tarp was put back and an attempt was made to get the field ready to continue play.

That proved fruitless in the downpour and seven minutes later, the decision was made to put the tarp on the field.

Crew chief Chris Guccione told pool reporter Anne Rogers of MLB.com what happened with the tarp snafu.

“I think it was just a slight miscommunication with what we needed or what we wanted to happen on the field,” Guccione said. “At that point, the field was getting to a point where we had to decide either to try to get one more half-inning in, get some dirt on it, some of the drying agent, or get the tarp on. And I waved the grounds crew on to go ahead and start.

“I told my two-man, Brian Knight – and I saw the grounds crew headed out to the tarp, and I got a hold of Brian, and I saw John coming out, because he saw the grounds crew going out to the tarp, so I wanted to try to head everybody off. I told Brian to stop them, we don’t want the tarp, let’s try to get some drying agent and get a half-inning in. That’s what happened there, try to get another half inning in.”

The tarp was removed at roughly 4:30 p.m., about one hour and 45 minutes after it covered the infield. The Royals grounds crew worked on the field for an hour in an attempt to restart the game.

For the next hour or so, Quatraro, Schneider and umpires inspected the field, discussed whether the game should continue, and Guccione kept in contact with Major League Baseball.

Finally, at 6:23 p.m., after a 3-hour and 38-minute delay, the game was called, even though the rain had stopped. That included nearly two hours of waiting after the tarp was removed.

Quatraro understood Schneider’s desire to continue the game but said the infield didn’t appear safe.

“That field took a ton of water and they (grounds crew) do a great job but they put that Diamond Dry down and essentially that dries the top,” Quatraro said, “but the stuff that was underneath was still very soft.”

Guccione praised the Royals grounds crew for their work in attempting to get the field ready. But the left side of the infield had taken on a lot of water.

“I will say that the Kansas City grounds crew here, we’ve always had a good relationship with them. They do a tremendous job on the field,” Guccione said. “They’re always filling us in on what’s going on, very straightforward. But they tried to work their magic to try to scrape all that old dirt off, get new dirt on there, rake it as much as they could. Unfortunately, there was just some spots on the infield, especially on the third base and shortstop side of the field.

“First and second was not, I mean, it was better than the other side. But in those situations, if there are a couple of soft spots, along the grass or maybe a few spots that are deeper that you can work around those a little bit, and they’ll tighten up – but in this situation, it was just like the whole shortstop area, the whole third-base area was so spongy and soft that I couldn’t imagine Bo Bichette or Bobby Witt Jr. trying to field the ball to their left or right and planting and trying to make a successful throw. That’s not good for the game, and for sure, the safety of the players is the No. 1 priority. We want to protect those guys.”

Schneider respectfully disagreed with Guccione and expressed his frustration with how things went.

“I think that the entire day was handled kind of poorly, just from starting the game,” Schneider said afterward. “What they said out there was the the fact that the field was unplayable and didn’t want to continue the game. My opinion, the field was significantly better than it was in the third, fourth and fifth inning and made that very known to Chris and the crew.

“I think they were respectful and they understood that. (Crummy) way to lose a game.”