ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays drew their third home sellout crowd of the season to Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon, and going into the top of the ninth of their division game against the New York Yankees, most remained to see a close game play out.
Then, the Trop went dark.
Tropicana Field experienced an internal power outage: First, the banks of LED field lighting went out, then the video board and the sound system. The local TV broadcast on Fox Sports Sun lost its connection as well.
And for 43 minutes, players and fans wondered if they’d be able to complete the Rays’ eventual 7-1 Mother’s Day loss to the Yankees.
“Good thing we got it back on and were able to finish the game,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of moms were going to be upset if we were going to have to sit there much longer.
The main advantage of playing inside a dome is you’re immune to weather delays. And barring the occasional hurricane-related postponement, Tropicana Field avoids them. Occasionally, a lightning strike sends the electrical grid off, but they’ve always been able to resume play.
“I wish I could say that was my first time experiencing that delay here, but it’s happened before,” said Yankees reliever Zack Britton, who has seen lightning-strike delays during his days with the Orioles.
This was different. Sunday’s power outage was a result of a “failure of a main switch into the building,” the team said in a postgame release.
“Rays operations staff identified and were able to reroute the electrical feed to an alternate switch temporarily so that the game could resume," the statement continued.
One reason the delay lasted so long was because the team’s operations staff had to test the rerouted system to ensure the electricity wouldn’t go out again, which is why the video board and sound system went on and off a few times before all electricity was fully restored.
Sunday’s announced sellout crowd of 25,025 was made mostly of Yankees fans -- Saturday’s game was a sellout as well -- but most of the crowd left before play resumed. Those who remained turned on their cell phone flashlights from various parts of the seating bowl, almost as if simulating a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden.
Players from both teams remained in the dugouts.
“It was something different,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We’re just sitting out there and wondering what’s going on, getting some explanation but trying to make sense of it all. You’re ball-talking, telling funny stories. Guys were able to stay loose, but at the same time staying ready.”
Once play resumed, the Yankees quickly plated four runs.
Yankees shortstop Thairo Estrada, who was in the batter’s box when the lights went out, returned and homered to right off Rays reliever Austin Pruitt, Gio Urshela hit a two-run double and Brett Gardner recorded a sacrifice fly.
“I’ve never seen that happen before,” Rays designated hitter Austin Meadows said of the delay and ensuing Yankees rally. “We kind of lost the momentum right there. It just kind of killed it a little bit. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected]. Follow @EddieInTheYard.