With steady rain falling, puddles across the infield and conditions unsafe and potentially embarrassing, Game 5 of the World Series was suspended Monday night with the Rays and Phillies tied at 2 and no set time, or even day, for resumption of play.
The earliest would be 8 tonight, but a forecast that calls for continued rain could delay it until Wednesday night, which, if the Rays win, would lead to Games 6 and 7 at Tropicana Field - scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday - being pushed back as well.
"It will be resumed when I believe that weather conditions are appropriate," commissioner Bud Selig said.
The rain had been falling for innings and the conditions deteriorating rapidly, despite efforts by the grounds crew, when the decision was finally made at 10:40 p.m. to suspend play.
"It was clear it was enough already," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "You see puddles, it was enough."
Because the score was tied, it is considered, under a 2007 rules change, a suspended game and will be picked up from the point it was stopped. It was the first suspended game in World Series history.
But, with the Phillies in position to clinch with a win, and leading 2-1 when the game technically became official in the fifth, Selig said he would not have called the game off in any event and instead would have put it in an indefinite rain delay.
"I have to use my judgment," Selig said. "I would not have let a World Series end this way."
The Phillies said they would not have wanted it that way. "Absolutely not," second baseman Chase Utley said.
The Rays were inconvenienced by the delay - they had already checked out of their downtown Philadelphia hotel and, after 19 calls, found the 100 rooms they needed in Wilmington, Del., about a half-hour away - but the delay could work to their advantage.
"It's kind of been our team motto all year, to expect the unexpected," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "This is par for the course for us. The fact that this was a first in World Series history almost guaranteed we'd be a part of it."
The biggest edge they have is that Phillies ace Cole Hamels won't still be pitching when the game resumes. "It's tough," Hamels said. "It's not how you want to end your last World Series game, but you can't beat Mother Nature."
Plus, there were some encouraging signs as Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria got their first hits of the Series as the Rays rallied from a 2-0 first-inning deficit.
"I hope this is the momentum changer we're looking for," reliever Trever Miller said. "No, it's not conventional, but this team is not conventional - we're the amazing Rays."
"All the guys, with all we've been through this year, are taking this as a nice jolt," Friedman said. "We're looking forward to resuming this game. Everyone in here is taking this as a positive."
Reliever Grant Balfour was in the game at the time it was stopped, and manager Joe Maddon said he plans to finish this game with the bullpen, saving starters James Shields and Matt Garza for potential Games 6 and 7.
"We have to win this game to get to James and to get to Garza," Maddon said.
The Rays - facing elimination as they trailed 3-1 in the best-of-seven Series - were down 2-0 after a shaky 29-pitch first inning by Scott Kazmir, who loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter then allowed a two-out, two-run single to Shane Victorino.
They got one run in the fourth inning when Pena, snapping an 0-for-22 stretch that went back to Game 5 of the ALCS, doubled and Longoria, who was 0-for-18, singled him in.
They got the other in the sixth, when B.J. Upton somehow navigated the water hazards to make it around the bases. Upton reached on an infield single, on a ground ball that shortstop Jimmy Rollins couldn't handle cleanly, stole second (splashing into the base as he slid in) then came around to score on Pena's single to left-center.
Maddon said, "I know they feel better about themselves right now, and confidence is really a wondrous thing in regards to us humans. Now that they have it back, there's no telling what they're going to do."
Selig said the game would not be moved to Tropicana Field no matter how long it takes for the weather to clear.
"We'll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving," Selig said. "It will be the same starting time whether it's Tuesday night or Wednesday night or Thursday night."
When Sternberg was asked if he thought things were going to Wednesday, he said no. "I think it's going to Friday."
Staff writers John Romano, Brant James, Dave Scheiber and Joe Smith contributed to this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org