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Rained-out tie could ease streak fears


Did you ever think there would be a time when the home team might like to have a rainout?

That could have been the case with the Orioles over the weekend, even though they were in the midst of their longest winning streak of the young season. They returned from the West Coast facing a horrible weather forecast that predicted storms throughout the Oakland Athletics' stay in Charm City.

Rainouts, of course, are a touchy subject with the Orioles, because one at the wrong time could jeopardize the possibility of Cal Ripken's setting the consecutive-games record in Baltimore. But in this case it would've actually worked in the club's favor -- even while creating chaos in the ticket office, and for those people holding tickets for games on Sept. 5 and 6 against the California Angels.

Oakland is one of the teams that will return to Baltimore before Ripken could be in position to break Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 straight games. So there would've been ample opportunities to make up any postponements before Sept. 5-6.

In addition, there is a possibility that will remain in place through most of the season that would help ensure that Ripken would set the record in Baltimore. During Friday night's 2-1 win over the A's, there were severe thunderstorms in the area that were so intense it was predicted play would be halted for at least two hours.

The score at the time was 1-1 and the game had gone beyond the five innings necessary to make it official. Which raised the one question that hadn't previously been considered in regards to The Streak, and the schedule.

What happens if the game is rained out after five innings, with the score tied? The answer is that it is an official game, and all records count -- including games played -- and the game is replayed in its entirety.

If that should happen, it means that Ripken actually could play the same game twice. And the Orioles would have a "buffer" game for Sept. 6, which falls on the last day of a homestand, making it a rather precarious date.

On Friday, when the Orioles beat the A's, 2-1, with a run in the eighth inning, there was a very real possibility of just such an occurrence.

It wouldn't have made anybody holding tickets for Sept. 5 or 6 very happy, but it would have provided a cushion for the Orioles, who naturally are eager for the event to take place in Camden Yards.

However, lest anyone have any thoughts that the club has control over such situations, it should be pointed out that once a game starts only the umpires can cease play. And rainouts with the score tied, after five innings, are very rare.

Still, it's a possibility that can't be dismissed. In fact, after five innings last night, when the score was 3-3, the Orioles would have welcomed such a development.

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