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Giants' protest upheld; rain-shortened game to resume

Giants' protest upheld; rain-shortened game to resume

CHICAGO -- The Giants' protest of Tuesday's rain-shortened game was upheld on Wednesday, becoming the first protest overturned by Major League Baseball since 1986.

The game will resume at 4:05 p.m. CT on Thursday, with no outs in the bottom of the fifth and the Cubs leading, 2-0. The regularly scheduled series finale will follow at 7:05 p.m.

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Major League Baseball made the announcement just before the first pitch on Wednesday, citing a "malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club" in its ruling, which falls under Rule 4.12(a)(3).

"All along, that's part of why we were here until 2 in the morning yesterday, trying to find a way and look in the rule and finding a way to hopefully make it a suspended game," general manager Jed Hoyer said after the decision.

Through Joe Torre, executive vice president for baseball operations, MLB determined that the malfunction stemmed from a failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its prior use.

Theo Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations, said after Tuesday's game that the rule wasn't initially applicable because the tarp was hauled manually.

But MLB determined the crew's inability to deploy the tarp appropriately through both video and dialogue with team officials and crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt.

"The more they watched it, the more it was clear that the thing got off angle right away," Hoyer said. "That was a big part of what happened."

Because MLB ruled that the grounds crew worked diligently to comply with a directive to cover the field, any basis for the game to be forfeited by the Cubs via Rule 4.16 was erased.

The controversy of the initial decision surrounded the importance of the game for the Giants in the National League pennant race. After Wednesday's 8-3 win, the Giants have sole possession of the second NL Wild Card berth and are two games behind the Cardinals for the first. San Francisco trails NL West-leading Los Angeles by three games.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy commended the Cubs for making every effort to suspend and eventually complete the game.

"They were all for this -- Theo, Jed and [Cubs manager] Rick [Renteria]," Bochy said. "They wanted to do the right thing."

Hoyer praised Major League Baseball for the quick pace of its ruling. The Giants and Cubs share a Sept. 4 off-day, but Hoyer hoped to avoid any situation in which the Giants would be forced to return to Chicago.

"I'm glad they were able to make sure we can play tomorrow, otherwise it would have been kind of awkward to have them come back here to finish this thing up," Hoyer said.

Those holding tickets from Tuesday may attend the 4:05 p.m. game and stay for the evening contest. Those with Thursday tickets may attend the early game as well.

Ticket-holders from Tuesday may instead opt to swap for a weeknight game during the remainder of the season.

"This organization, to me, always seems to do things the right way when it comes to taking care of their fans, so that's no surprise," Cubs catcher John Baker said.

The snafu started in the middle of the fifth inning on Tuesday, just before 9 p.m. The grounds crew struggled to spread the tarp over the infield amid high winds and a heavy downpour that lasted roughly 10 minutes.

By the time the field was covered, it was unsalvagable. After a delay of four hours and 34 minutes -- during which with the crew rapidly worked to repair the field -- the game was called with the Cubs ahead, 2-0.

The storm was isolated in a small pocket over the north side of Chicago. The Orioles-White Sox game, 10 miles south at U.S. Cellular Field, was not affected.

"I just think that's the nature of this area," Hoyer said. "There's no question that the field was really wet when the tarp got out there. You don't really have to be perfect in how you do it, because there's no margin for error once the field gets wet, and it got wetter than usual because there wasn't any warning, or very little warning."

Hoyer hopes that the malfunction rule is discussed at the General Managers Meetings this offseason, perhaps even for a vote to alter its application.

"Obviously, if I have a vote on it, I would make that rule change and allow that to be a suspended game," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to convince some other people to vote the same way, having gone through this."

Hoyer also praised the grounds crew.

"Our grounds crew does a good job -- pretty good batting average when it comes to getting these right," he said while also noting that the crew will discuss the matter internally. "Obviously, you've got to bat 1.000 in this situation, but they're really good at their job. We like working with them. I don't think it's an indictment on anyone."

A 28-year streak of denied protests ended with Wednesday's ruling.

The last time a protest was upheld was in 1986, a game between St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Pirates claimed that the contest was improperly called early for rain after separate delays of 17 minutes and 22 minutes, which prematurely gave the Cardinals a 4-1 win.

Then-NL president Charles Feeney ruled a day later that the game be made up before the next evening's regularly scheduled contest, with one out in the top of the sixth. NL regulations at the time required delays of 75 and 45 minutes during an initial and subsequent delay, respectively, before the game could be called.

Those laws have since been altered.

Current MLB rule 4.01(d) states that umpires have sole authority to determine when a game shall be called, suspended or resumed on account of weather or the condition of the playing field -- as was the case on Tuesday.

Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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