CHICAGO — The weather had stunk early and stank just a little less later in the dreary evening. The conditions ranged from embarrassing to abysmal in the early innings and improved to somewhat miserable as they progressed.
The Mariners largely followed a similar pattern, slogging their way through the steady rain falling early in the game, matching the sloppy conditions with soggy play and looking as if they were just hoping the game would be stopped or postponed, which it probably should have been.
And when the rain decreased from heavy to steady and finally into a constant mist, they tried to make amends for the earlier mistakes and make it a game. In the end, the result was the same as the previous three games — a defeat.
The White Sox capitalized on Mariners miscues early and tagged Seattle starter Robbie Ray for three solo homers to roll to a rain-soaked 6-4 victory Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Seattle will try to avoid a three-game sweep and salvage what’s left of this road trip gone wrong Thursday afternoon in the series finale.
“Doesn’t get much tougher conditions to play in than that tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Both teams had to deal with it as best we could.”
Well, yes and no, the Mariners bore the brunt of the worst conditions and it hurt them.
With various levels of rain hitting the Chicago area starting late Tuesday evening, there was some thought that Wednesday night’s game would be postponed into a doubleheader on Thursday or even perhaps the White Sox giving up a home game and playing a doubleheader in Seattle late in the season, which was discussed.
Instead, the game’s start time was delayed 47 minutes with the first pitch at 6:57 p.m.
The Mariners still might have preferred a 7:57 p.m. or 8:57 p.m. start instead even after Ty France gave them a 1-0 lead with a solo homer to left field off Chicago starter Dallas Keuchel.
After working around a leadoff single from Tim Anderson for a scoreless first inning, despite some very deep fly balls, Ray found pure misery in the second inning as the rain started to fall heavily to the point of being absurd that they were still on the field.
The umpires told Servais pregame that they would try and play through the rain and wind, and that it would never be heavy enough to stop it. That call was worse than any ball or strike on the night.
Eloy Jimenez led off the inning with a solo homer to left field that tied the game. It only got worse. The next batter, Andrew Vaughn, hit a ground ball that hydroplaned to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who misplayed it. Vaughn was given a single on the play.
“That second inning it picked up a little bit as far as the rain and I felt like I did decent job of keeping the ball dry,” Ray said before stopping himself from saying something else. “They just strung some hits together.”
Clearly bothered by the rain and trying to dry his pitching hand on the inside thigh portion of his pants, Ray uncorked a wild pitch and then walked Adam Engel. After getting a force out at second base, leaving runners on first and third, Crawford couldn’t glove Jake Burger’s hard one-hopper. The ball bounced off his glove and into left field for an RBI “single” to make it 2-1.
“To be honest, you couldn’t see (crap),” Crawford said. “You couldn’t see the ball come off the bat it was raining so hard. I don’t want to make excuses and I’ve still go to catch the ball. But if you can’t see it coming at you then there is a problem. I don’t think we should’ve playing then.”
In the dugout, Servais yelled at the umpires.
“I was yelling at the umps: ‘What are we doing here?,'” Servais said. “They were instructed to try to play through it and do everything they could to get this game in. When you’re on the road, and certainly the game starts, it’s in the hands of the umpires at that point.”
Servais was hoping some level of common sense might prevail for even a brief delay to put some “Diamond Dry” on the puddles that were starting to form. But the umpiring crew used their amateur weather forecasting skills and the radar from a phone to provide justification.
“They said it was only going to rain hard for like 5-10 minutes,” Servais said. “We should’ve just stopped it there for a little bit.”
Tim Anderson followed with a double into the gap in left-center to score two more runs and make it 4-1. With water puddling on the infield dirt in various places, Ray got a pair of ground balls to end the inning. With no extra road jerseys, clubhouse attendants put Ray’s jersey in the dryer with the Mariners hitting.
After the top of the second and with the White Sox taking the field, the grounds crew attempted to actually do something with the field, putting several bags of Diamond Dry in various wet spots, including the pitcher’s mound, while umpires let the inning start be delayed. The timing of which didn’t go unnoticed by multiple Mariners players.
Ray bounced back after the disastrous second inning, posting scoreless frames over the next three innings.
“It was a little muddy,” he said. “It wasn’t the greatest conditions, but we’re professionals. I’m not one to make excuses. In a situation like that, I just gotta bear down and focus and get outs.”
His teammates cut the lead to 4-3 on a swinging bunt single from Dylan Moore that scored Crawford, who doubled to start the top of the fourth inning. France drove in Tom Murphy with a ground ball to second base.
But Keuchel was able to get Mitch Haniger to pop out to end the inning.
Ray’s outing ended with one out in the seventh when he gave up back-to-back homers to Anderson and Luis Robert that made it 6-3.
Seattle picked up a run in the ninth inning off Chicago closer Liam Hendriks. Suarez doubled off the wall in right-center and scored on Crawford’s third hit of the game — a bloop single to left.