With heavy rain and storms forecast for much of Sunday afternoon, and few alternatives for a makeup date, the Orioles are bracing for a long day at the ballpark in order to play Sunday's series finale against the Houston Astros.
The game was delayed as heavy rains started right around the 1:35 p.m. scheduled first pitch. The weather worsened around 2 p.m. It cleared up shortly thereafter, but rain is forecast until 6 p.m.
Just before 3 p.m., after an hour or so of intermittent sunlight and rain, the Orioles announced over the stadium public address system that they anticipate "a lengthy delay as additional storms approach the ballpark." Fans were removed from the lower seating bowl around that time.
At 3:25 p.m., the team announced fans would be allowed to leave the ballpark and re-enter when the game begins, provided they keep their ticket stub. Fans can also exchange their tickets for today's game, even if it is played, for one for a future game this season, subject to availability.
For fans who want to come out to the ballpark for when the game begins can do so, the team said, with box offices remaining open and some of Sunday's promotion, a Birdland Power Co. emoji T-shirt, still available.
There are several factors indicating this will be a long wait instead of a quick postponement. The Orioles don't have to travel anywhere Monday, instead hosting the Washington Nationals. Houston has to travel to Pittsburgh, a manageable trip even if its made late.
The only mutual off-day left on the schedule for the two teams is Sept. 1, a date that falls in the middle of a six-game, seven-day homestand for the Orioles and would require a one-day trip to Baltimore for the Astros. They're home on Aug. 31, and travel to Texas to play the Rangers on Sept. 2.
However, that would violate an MLB provision prohibiting teams from playing more than 20 days in a row without an off-day.
The players can approve such a make-up game, but that would mean the Orioles will have games on 23 straight days between Aug. 15 and Sept. 8. Houston would bump up against that as well, though they're off on Thursday after leaving Pittsburgh. A Sept. 1 game would mean they play 20 straight between days off.
There's also the possibility of adding a makeup game tp the end of the season, but these are two teams with playoff aspirations. The Orioles are holding onto a Wild Card spot at 67-55, and Houston is heating up and sitting at 63-60.