Created on Saturday, 01 June 2013 Written by TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — A large crowd. Cheap hot dogs. Postgame fireworks.
The night began with such promise for the Cleveland Indians and their fans.
It ended up just being a long, losing one.
Four Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a one-hitter as the Indians couldn't get anything going following nearly five hours in rain delays and lost 9-2 Friday night to the Rays, who recorded the final out at 2:53 a.m. in front of just a few thousand soggy fans.
"Just a tough night," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m., the game was delayed three times before finally resuming at 12:13 a.m. — 2 hours, 39 minutes after the third and lengthiest delay. Before that there was uncertainty, confusion and, of course, rain. In the end, the teams were forced to wait 4:49 through the weather stoppages.
"It was a little different," Francona said. "You play when they tell you to and do the best you can."
James Loney and Matt Joyce hit two-run homers in the fifth inning off Scott Barnes (0-1) and the Indians, who seemed to catch a break when the rain forced the unbeaten Matt Moore from the game, never got anything going on offense. And when it looked like they might have something going in the sixth, Mike Aviles struck out and Michael Bourn was called out in a rundown despite TV replays showing first baseman Loney missed him with the tag.
It was a complete loss for the Indians, who have lost eight of 11. They did stay within one-game of first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers were beaten on a walk-off homer in Baltimore.
It was the majors' third marathon game in two days. On Thursday night, Kansas City and St. Louis were delayed an hour before the first pitch and another 4 hours, 32 minutes by rain before the Royals beat Cardinals 4-2 well after 3 in the morning.
And about 20 minutes after the Rays got their final out, the San Diego Padres finished off a 4-3, 17-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays that took 4:58.
Afterward, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, who had to be back for a 1:05 p.m. start on Saturday, went on Twitter to thank the few thousand fans who hung around until the end.
"A sincere thanks to each and every fan that stuck around to watch that game!" Longoria wrote. "You all made it fun. (hash)ClevelandRocks."
Jamey Wright (1-1) came in for Moore and pitched three innings for the Rays, who went an AL-best 18-10 in May. Cleveland's only hit was Ryan Raburn's RBI double in the fifth off Josh Lueke.
Cesar Ramos pitched three hitless innings for his first career save.
The teams had little choice but wait out the long delays. With a forecast for heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday, crew chief Fieldin Culbreth and the umpires figured they had to try to get in one game with the possibility the whole weekend could get washed out. The teams aren't scheduled to meet again this season.
The game was delayed 1 hours, 57 minutes at the start, 13 minutes in the second inning and then for another 2:39 before it started again in front of a crowd that began as more than 30,000 and dwindled to just a few thousand, who waited it out and were rewarded for their patience.
At about 11 p.m., Francona, Rays manager Joe Maddon, Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti and two umpires did a walking tour of the saturated outfield grass to inspect the conditions. Not long after that, the overworked grounds crew was summoned again to get the field ready and at 12:13 a.m. Wright threw a pitch to Nick Swisher.
At one point during the third delay, Maddon, with the hood of his blue sweatshirt pulled over his head to try and stay dry, took a stroll through the soggy outfield and thought it might be unplayable.
"It was very confusing to everybody," Maddon said. "Fieldin and the boys, umpiring wise, they were handed this. The group here felt the Indians really wanted to play the game tonight."
Francona, too, praised the umpires.
"I thought they handled it very well," he said.
After thunderstorms blasted through the area, the 7:05 p.m. start was pushed back to 9:02 p.m. and the teams took the field under threatening skies.
Kluber got two outs in the second inning when play was halted by rain at 9:18 as Culbreth ordered the grounds crew to put the tarp on the field. But within seconds of the infield being covered, the rain stopped and the game was re-started.
Kluber gave up a walk and got Desmond Jennings to line out for the last out in the second when the rain resumed after three minutes of play and the game was stopped again at 9:34 p.m.
Both Maddon and Francona met separately with the umpires as fans scrambled to stay dry. The Indians announced they reduced $1 dollar hot dogs to 50 cents as a way of thanking fans for enduring the rain. During the third delay, fans watched out-of-town games on the giant scoreboard and cheered the Orioles rallied to beat the Tigers.
NOTES: Indians C Carlos Santana batted just .200 (20 for 100) in May. ... Indians OF Drew Stubbs is in a 5-for-36 skid. .. Browns offensive linemen, including Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, visited the Indians clubhouse before the game and then crowded into the dugout to stay out of the rain. Thomas couldn't convince one of the rookies to do a belly slide across the tarp for money. ... Indians closer Chris Perez, on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, will be reevaluated Sunday before the next step in his rehab is mapped out. ... Despite the loss, the Indians are 15-5 in their past 20 home games.