Forecasters expect to get in Game 5

Forecasters expect to get in Game 5

ST. LOUIS -- A band of steady showers that has persisted since right after Thursday night's Game 4 has passed through the St. Louis area, offering the strongest probability that Game 5 of the World Series will start as scheduled at 7:27 CT tonight.

It will be a sea of shivering red on a cold and windy but dry night at Busch Stadium, as the local Cardinals, holding a 3-1 series lead, try to clinch what would be their first world championship since 1982. If Detroit wins, the World Series returns north to Comerica Park for what would be a frigid and snow-showered Game 6 on Saturday night.

"This front has moved through as expected," Cindy Preszler, chief meteorologist for local NBC affiliate KSDK-TV Ch. 5, told MLB.com at 5:30 p.m. "The only thing people need to be concerned about tonight is the wind chill, so Cardinal fans are advised to dress very warm."

Squeezing a storm system in between games is exactly what forecasters and Cardinals head groundskeeper Bill Findley had anticipated and hoped for, allowing time before Game 5 to work on the Busch Stadium field. Findley's crew removed the tarp at about 1:30 p.m., and it made a temporary lake that stretched from the foul line behind first base to short center field. The crew quickly used squeegees and pitchforks, and the water disappeared in less than five minutes. The tarp was off for about two hours for some groundwork, and then rolled again onto the infield, where it remained as of 5:30 p.m. after the storm front disappeared.

"I want to do whatever is in the best interest of baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in the interview room at Busch, when asked if he thinks Game 5 should be rescheduled for an expected perfect day in St. Louis on Saturday. "If the Commissioner and everybody says we play baseball tonight, which I think we will, we play baseball. I really have no say in the decision. I'm ready to play tonight. [There's] going to be a little drizzle probably, but it's not going to be any different for the Cardinals than it is for us."

"Cardinal fans, there will be a Game 5 on Friday night," Dave Murray, chief meteorologist at local FOX affiliate KTVI-TV Ch. 2, told his viewers after Thursday night's 5-4 St. Louis victory over Detroit. That forecast apparently will hold true. Though Major League Baseball officials have yet to make the official determination, a game is definitely expected.

Mike Roberts, a meteorologist at KSDK-TV, said the bigger issue "is going to be the wind -- winds out of the north, which will bring [baseballs] in from left field and center field, so that's a big deal. That will be an issue. It could gust about 25 miles per hour. Temperatures will be falling through the 40s, probably about 47 at the scheduled game time start and then drop to about 45. You will have wind chills in the lower 30s, which will be better than what it will be tomorrow night in Detroit, where they will have stronger winds with likely snow showers and wind chills in the 20s."

Indeed, the weather is already raw here at Busch, where there is no sign of batting practice for either team. A cold wind is cutting through the stadium, although still not quite as miserable as the conditions fans faced during Game 2 last Sunday at Comerica. At 5 p.m., the wind was blowing strong out to left; one-half hour later, it was the complete opposite, and probably will remain that way.

It remains to be seen how much it will matter, though. Most of these fans will be the ones who had tickets for the originally scheduled Game 4 that was canceled Wednesday, so they were looking at the possibility of either seeing a second rainout announced or the possibility of seeing a World Series clincher.

Findley had said that the main challenge with Friday's all-day soaker would be keeping the field at new Busch Stadium dry. "You're fighting what's going on with the weather and keeping it playable," he said.

There will be a lot of discussion tonight about drainage because of this soaker, so it's not unlikely that there could be some footing issues in the outfield like the one Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson experienced during the seventh inning Thursday night.

Findley, who is in his 11th year with the Cardinals, said that a heavy soaker presents more problems than Thursday's type of patchy rains, simply because "these all-day soakers get in the soil and they stay there." Nevertheless, he seemed optimistic that the conditions will be playable tonight.

Leyland said he would not attribute his team's misfortunate events during their Game 4 loss Thursday night to the conditions. It was a wet field that night, and will be wetter tonight.

"The conditions are same for everybody -- we have no complaints, there will be no excuses," Leyland said. "Some people have thoughts about which play hurt the most. I definitely felt like it was [Curtis] Granderson's play that turned the game around. That's one out. The bunt play would have never happened. It's just one of those unfortunate things. Conditions were the same for everybody -- which were a little tough, but we have no complaints. Preston Wilson slipped on a ball. That's just the way it goes."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.