Orioles expecting 'wet but playable' conditions for ALCS Game 1

As drizzly clouds covered the region Friday evening, Orioles officials said they are expecting "wet but playable conditions" for the Orioles/Royals matchup to open the American League Championship series.

"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," Brian LaSorsa, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said in a post on the Orioles website Friday. "If they can play through a light rain, then I think it's definitely playable."

Major League Baseball officials will make any decisions on delaying or postponing the game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m., the post said. League officials are consulting with both teams, the umpiring crew and various weather forecasters.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters he expects his team to play.

The weather service is predicting 100 percent chances of rain over the afternoon and evening, with the prime area of concern for steady rain from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., said Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the weather service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office.

The forecasters expect half an inch of rain or more is possible from Friday night through Saturday morning. Though radar showed light rain over the region by late Friday afternoon, no measurable rain had been reported at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport as of 5 p.m. Radar showed heavier rain south of Maryland, along a frontal boundary across Virginia and North Carolina.

In the event that Friday's game is postponed, then Game 1 would be rescheduled for Saturday and Game 2 shifted from Saturday likely to Sunday, according to an Orioles official. Tickets to Friday's game would be honored Saturday, and tickets for the game originally scheduled for Saturday would be honored for the rescheduled Game 2. Times for rescheduled games have not been made public.

"If Game 1 begins but is halted due to weather, it would be deemed a suspended game and completed when possible -- a situation that MLB will work to avoid," the website posting said. Under a 2009 rule, postseason games cannot be shortened by inclement weather.

The 100 percent rain chance forecast "doesn’t mean it'll be raining the entire time, but there will be showers in the area," said Greg Schoor, another weather service meteorologist. Schoor said he expects light to moderate rain -- "just enough to wet the ground kind of rain", he said.

But there is also a chance bands of more moderate to heavy rain could pass through, he said. It's impossible to predict where those might be.

Along with the rain, winds and air temperatures are forecast to be cold. Highs could just barely crack the 60-degree mark in the afternoon, with temperatures down in the 50s by game time and a cold northeast wind, Schoor said.

Rain is forecast for much of the country over the next few days, with a frontal boundary setting up from west to east, from the southern Plains states to the mid-Atlantic.

While the rest of the weekend has been looking dreary in the forecast, rain chances for Saturday have all but evaporated. Sunday's forecast remains iffy, with about 40 percent chances of rain predicted.

It wouldn't be the first time bad weather has affected October baseball in Baltimore.

In 1979, bitter cold, rain and snow disrupted a World Series matchup between the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. Game 1 was called off at the last minute. Once the series moved to Pittsburgh, the weather wasn't much better, with an hourlong delay in Game 3.

In 1983, rain delayed Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox, though it was eventually played as scheduled that night.

Game 1 of the 1971 ALCS between the Orioles and Oakland Athletics was postponed from Saturday to Sunday, but that year, it was nothing unusual for the Orioles. A record 14 home games at Memorial Stadium were rained out that year, according to Baltimore Sun archives.

And in 1966, rain pushed the first two games of an early October series between the Orioles and Minnesota Twins, the last of the regular season, into a doubleheader. The Orioles were swept, with pitchers Dave McNally and Jim Palmer "mauled" a week ahead of their World Series matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Sun archives.

Of course, they ended up not any worse for the wear -- the Orioles won their first World Series appearance in four games.

Baltimore Sun research librarian Paul McCardell and reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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