A New MLB Rule Forced Royals-Cardinals To Go 8 Soggy Hours

The listed time of game for the desperate Royals' 4-2 win over the Cardinals was a crisp 2:27. This is how box scores lie to you. The last out was recorded at 3:14 a.m. CDT, with maybe 100 fans left in the stadium. In baseball limbo, Mitchell Boggs is forever coming on to protect a lead.

This cross-state interleague showdown had a pair of good storylines, long since washed away by a 4:32 rain delay in the ninth inning that saw Mike Matheny lobbying umpires to end the game, and Royals players helping out the grounds crew to restore the field to playability. For St. Louis, the major league debut of highly touted righthander Michael Wacha. For Kansas City, the first game with new interim hitting coach George Brett, hired after the punchless Royals had lost 19 of their last 23.

Wacha lived up to expectations. He retired the first 13 batters he faced, going seven innings, striking out six while only allowing two hits and one run. How much of that was Wacha being awesome, and how much was the Royals' bats continuing to be for decorative purposes only, is open to interpretation. But they were all ready to give Wacha the key to the city, until Mitchell Boggs brought the rain.

With closer Edward Mujica unavailable after throwing four straight days, Matheny brought on Boggs to pitch. Boggs had started the season at the Cardinals' closer, but was immediately ineffective, his era climbing above 12.00 after the first month. After a stint in the minors, Boggs was recalled last week, but kept away from pressure situations until last night. He came on to start the ninth, St. Louis holding a 2-1 lead, and Jeff Francoeur immediately homered.

Boggs walked the next man, his last man, and Victor Marte finished giving up the comeback. By the time the rains, which had delayed first pitch for an hour, became too strong to continue, the Royals had a 4-2 lead and the bases loaded with no one out.

The rains came, they came hard (cameras captured lightning striking the Gateway Arch), and they didn't stop. During the 4:32 delay, Matheny and GM John Mozeliak repeatedly pushed for the game to be called. Why, if they were losing? A new rule, introduced just this season.

Any suspended game not completed prior to the last scheduled game between the two teams during the championship season shall become a called game, as follows:

(i) If such game has progressed far enough to become a regulation game, and one team is ahead, the team that is ahead shall be declared the winner (unless the game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead, in which case the score upon the completion of the last full inning shall stand for purposes of this Rule 4.12(b)(4))

Because the Royals and Cardinals will not play each other again this season, had the game been abandoned, the score would have reverted to that of the last completed inning—when it was still 2-1, St. Louis. No wonder Jeremy Guthrie was out trying to get the diamond back in shape.

The game eventually resumed at 3:04 a.m. local time, and Matheny didn't sound happy. The Royals, on the other hand, were willing to wait as long as it took.

"Look, when you're trying to break a streak, you'll play at 5 in the morning," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

From a sellout crowd, just a few hardy souls stuck it out, sustained by bags of sunflower seeds hurled into the stands by Mike Moustakas. When play resumed, it took just 10 minutes to wrap up one of the more miserable games in recent history. The Royals broke an eight-game losing streak, and Mitchell Boggs officially became the most-hated man in St. Louis.