The crowd at Wrigley Field stirred to life at 9:24 p.m. local time Monday as the grounds crew gathered around the tarp. It had lain in the grass of right field, beneath a malfunctioning tower of lights, for nearly 45 minutes. The fans cheered as the attendants pulled at the tarp, only to groan when the grounds crew used it to cover the mound once more.
Two hours and 53 minutes after the game between the Cubs and Dodgers was supposed to start, a postponement became official. The teams are slated for a doubleheader Tuesday, split between 10:05 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. PDT. The explanation from the Cubs blamed the inclement forecast, even though it rained hard for only about 20 minutes, and a power outage inside the stadium.
The fans who arrived for this rematch of the past two National League Championship Series saw no baseball, but they did see some relative drama. At 9:27 p.m., the lights burst on and Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda trotted to the bullpen to warm up. Fourteen minutes later, the tower flickered out again, ushering in a round of jeers.
“They thought they had a chance,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But once they went out again, they made the final decision.”
The Dodgers will play their third doubleheader of the season. Maeda will start the opener. Rich Hill will return from the disabled list for the nightcap. Hill’s outing will be in jeopardy, with more rain in the forecast.
“It’s out of our control,” Roberts said. “It’s one of those things where we spent a lot of time here. But there was really nothing else we could have done, on our part.”
The teams share only two mutual off days the rest of the season, so the Cubs hoped to squeeze as much of this three-game series as possible into these three days, explained Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green.
“Being able to at least get one of those games in tomorrow, even with the forecast equally as dicey, is important,” Green said.
Rain alone did not prevent Monday’s game from starting on time. The lack of lighting played a role, too. Roberts said he received assurances the power will not be an issue Tuesday.
“They’re pretty confident that tomorrow the light situation will be taken care of,” Roberts said.
Kershaw back this weekend?
After throwing three innings in a simulated setting Monday afternoon, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could return to the big-league roster this weekend when the team visits the New York Mets.
Both Kershaw and Roberts indicated the Dodgers had not decided where to send Kershaw next. He could either start at Citi Field or appear in a minor-league rehab outing with triple-A Oklahoma City. Kershaw would prefer to pitch in the majors.
“Clayton is going to be more on the aggressive side, which we all know and appreciated,” Roberts said before Monday’s game against the Cubs. “But we’re going to have a conversation with the training staff, the front office and really try to figure out what makes the most sense for him and for us.”
Kershaw (1-4, 2.76 earned-run average) has pitched only once since May 1, slowed first by biceps tendinitis and then by a strained muscle in his lower back. His fastball velocity sunk into the mid-80s during his May 31 start when his back flared up for the third time in three seasons. Kershaw missed five weeks with a similar injury last year; he appears on a quicker path back this time.
Kershaw operated in intense heat Monday, with the temperature approaching the mid-90s in the Midwestern humidity. He did not mind the climate.
“Everything felt good,” Kershaw said. “Just waiting on the next step.”
SHORT HOPS: Walker Buehler will throw a bullpen session Saturday to test the microfracture in his ribcage. ... Tony Cingrani “felt a little something in his [left] shoulder” last week, Roberts said. The team slowed his rehab. “When he gets ramped back up, I really don’t know,” Roberts said. Cingrani has not appeared in a game since June 6. … The Dodgers plan to activate Chase Utley (left thumb sprain) on Tuesday or Wednesday, Roberts said. Utley posted a .381 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 21 games in May.