DENVER - The cold and snow in Colorado scrapped plans for Pedro Martinez’s first postseason start in five years.
Game 3 of the Philadelphia-Colorado playoff series was postponed a day because of weather Saturday better suited for cross-country skiing. About an hour before the scheduled start it was 24 degrees.
The delay prompted a pitching switch by the Phillies, with left-hander J.A. Happ going to the mound Sunday instead of the 37-year-old Martinez.
The Rockies are sticking with Jason Hammel in the best-of-five series tied at a game apiece.
Moreover, the snowout allowed Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel to go with an all-lefty rotation against a Rockies team that sports potent left-handed hitters in Todd Helton, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, Brad Hawpe and Jason Giambi.
“I thought it was a tremendous way of putting all of our left-handed pitchers on them,” said Manuel, who will go with Game 1 winner Cliff Lee on Monday against Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez. That will allow Phillies ace Cole Hamels to pitch on regular rest Tuesday back in Philadelphia if a Game 5 is necessary.
The Rockies went 27-26 against left-handed starters during the season and 65-44 against righties.
“I like left-handed pitchers against this team,” Manuel said.
The Rockies hit .253 against lefties, .264 against righties.
With Martinez on the mound, the Rockies would have used their most potent lineup with Stewart at third base, Smith in left and maybe Gonzalez in center.
The Phillies holed up in their hotel Saturday with only a few players, including Happ, heading to the ballpark for some work.
“I didn’t throw off the mound. I just went over there to get some work in and then to just play some catch a little bit, just kind of trying to stay on the normal routine I would a day before I start,” Happ said.
Hammel and the rest of the Rockies were summoned for a 90-minute workout inside Coors Field.
“We just want to keep ourselves on somewhat of a schedule,” manager Jim Tracy said.
Tracy suspected this might not be a night for baseball when even his dogs wanted to skip their morning walk. Major League Baseball agreed with Tracy’s beagles, pushing back Game 3 of this NL division series to Sunday night and Game 4 to Monday.
Their series is tied at one game each.
“I think it’s a very wise decision,” Tracy told The Associated Press by phone. “You could have something happen in weather like this where you could lose a player for half a year in 2010.
“There’s no question about the type of play that you would see in this kind of weather vs. if you have better conditions that they’re calling for Sunday,” he said. “To be cold and wet and rainy and sleety or snowy is completely different than cold and dry and clear.”
Surely any dog would know that. Well, at least Tracy’s.
“We got up to take the dogs for a walk and when two beagles don’t want to go outside, I don’t see how baseball players would see this as a real good day to be playing,” he said. “It was snowing and 18 degrees, not very conducive for baseball.”
Manuel didn’t like walking outside in the morning, either.
“It was snowing, and somebody told me it was 17 degrees,” Manuel said. “And I thought to myself, well, how much can it warm up today? And the smart guy that I am, I said, well, is probably going to get to 20. So I figured it might be a little bit too cold to play baseball. So, I think they made the right decision.”
Happ, a rookie, said Saturday that he felt better after being knocked out of Game 1. He had entered in relief and took a hard liner off his left leg in the seventh inning.
“The leg is a non-issue,” he said.
Before the weather changed things, Martinez was set to make his first postseason start since he won Game 3 for Boston at St. Louis in the 2004 World Series.
“When I talked to Pedro, he totally understood,” Manuel said. “He was very professional about it. Of course, he wants to pitch. He’s just like everybody else. He came here to pitch and he did a good job for us.”
Manuel said he’d use Martinez, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, out of the bullpen.
The cold front that moved into Denver overnight dropped temperatures into the teens with record lows for the date. Coors Field was covered with a thin layer of snow and ice Saturday morning and flurries were expected to continue through the night.
The National Weather Service said the cold front packed more punch than expected and the low of 17 degrees easily broke the record low for the date of 25 degrees set in 1905.
Meteorologist Eric Thaler said the updated forecast called for temperatures in the mid-20s at game time, which would have been the coldest, by far, for any postseason game.
The lowest game-time temperature in the postseason was 35 degrees for Game 4 of the 1997 World Series at Cleveland between the Indians and Florida Marlins. Manuel was the Indians’ hitting coach at the time.
With the front moving out Saturday night, temperatures are expected to approach 50 on Sunday.
“It’s still not going to be a delightful time tomorrow night,” Thaler said. “Baseball is 70s and 80s and 90s weather. It’s not going to be that. By the end of the game, it might be sneaking into the mid-to-upper 30s. You’re still going to want to bundle up.”
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