Weather doesn't delay start of ALCS

Weather doesn't delay start of ALCS

BALTIMORE -- The Royals and Orioles have waited a long time to get back to the American League Championship Series, and as they prepared to begin their battle for the pennant, meteorologists were predicting wet but playable conditions for the scheduled first pitch of tonight's Game 1 at Camden Yards.

The game began on schedule, without rain falling at Oriole Park.

"During the start of the game there will be some rain around, but we think that the steadiest rain is going to be later this evening and overnight," said Brian LaSorsa, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington office. "If they can play through a light rain, then I think it's definitely playable."

Any decisions regarding the game will be in the hands of Major League Baseball, which has been in contact with the Royals, Orioles, the umpiring crew and several weather services, according to MLB spokesperson Michael Teevan.

"We are monitoring the forecast and are staying in touch with the clubs," Teevan said.

About an hour before first pitch, Weather.com stated 0 percent chance of rain until 1 a.m. ET, when it jumps to 80 percent, leaving plenty of time for both teams to squeeze in Game 1. And at about 7:15 p.m., the grounds crew removed the tarp from the infield from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, indicating that Game 1 would start on time.

"I prefer to play in the rain tonight," Royals manager Ned Yost said about two and a half hours before the scheduled 8:07 p.m. ET first pitch. "I just feel that we're ready for this. We've had four days off. The rain doesn't scare us. I'd just as soon play tonight, play today, and have the off day on Sunday."

Both teams canceled outdoor batting practice.

"We're doing everything," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I know [Major League Baseball] and the Orioles are doing everything they can. Right now it looks like we've got a shot at starting on time and playing."

Ultimately, a decision on whether to play will be in the domain of Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. Torre's department will keep Commissioner Bud Selig and Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred informed of any developments.

If Game 1 is halted due to weather, it would be deemed a suspended game and completed when possible -- a situation that MLB will work to avoid.

"Starting a game and then stopping it is not desirable to anyone," Teevan said.

In the event of a postponement, Major League Baseball could push Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS back a day to Saturday and Sunday. The series has a scheduled off-day on Sunday, during which both teams are tentatively expected to work out at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where Game 3 is to be played on Monday.

"We're talking about different things, but the one thing I've learned is I can't control the weather, as much as I want to or I've tried," Yost said.

In 2009, MLB enacted a rule stating that no postseason game will be shortened by inclement weather. Postseason games instead become suspended if they are halted due to weather, regardless of how many innings have been played or the score at the time play is stopped. A suspended game is resumed and played to completion at the same site.

"This year has been very unusual as far as rain delays and rainouts, but it's part of the game," said Royals right-hander James Shields, who is scheduled to start Game 1. "You've got to get used to it, and hopefully it doesn't rain tomorrow."

Drier conditions are in the forecast for Saturday, with the odds of precipitation only 20 percent at game time. Sunday also looks to be clear.

"I think that they'll be OK; most of that rain will be to the south," LaSorsa said. "If it does happen to hold on longer than what is forecasted at this time, then it would be a pretty light rain. I think they'd be able to get that in."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.