April 6, 2007 – Home Opener Snowed Out, Later Played in Milwaukee
Indians starter Paul Byrd took the mound after a one-hour and ten minute delay into a driving snowstorm. To the TV viewer’s eye, there was little difference in the conditions during and after the delay. Evidently, the umpires thought that they saw some relief in the radar signature. Byrd was working on a no-hitter through four innings, certainly assisted by the falling snow.
With two outs and two strikes in the top of the fourth, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove exited the dugout to make his case with the umpire crew. He urged that the game be delayed because his batters could not see the ball against the white background of swiftly-falling snow.
At this point–one-strike away from being an official game–the game was delayed. The sell-out crowd remained in the stands building snowmen for another hour and seventeen minutes. With no improvement in the weather in sight, the game (and eventually the entire series) was called due to weather. With over a foot of snow coating the field, the Mariners series was re-scheduled to open dates throughout the season. The 10-day forecast indicated that the April 10th game against the Angels was in jeopardy as well. MLB began looking for an alternate site for the series against the Angels.
On April 10th, flatbed trucks were busy removing snow from Jacob’s Field. 500 miles away in Milwaukee, over 19,000 fans came to Miller Park in Milwaukee to see the Indians “Home Opener.” The Indians did all that they could to bring the home field advantage to Wisconsin: John Adams was in the crowd with his drum, the staff had loaded the Indians hype videos and walkup music into Miller Park’s systems, and Slider took a ride down Bernie Brewer’s famous slide.
The game itself was a fairly standard affair. Kelly Shoppach hit a home run off Ervin Santana in the bottom of the 2nd. The Angels threatened several times, but CC Sebathia had a solid outing holding the Angels to only three runs through seven innings. The Angels scored two runs in the 8th and pulled within one when Casey Kochman scored Garrett Anderson on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th against closer Joe Borowski. Eric Eybar came in as a pinch runner for Casey Kotchman who was on second. On a 1-1 pitch, Shoppach caught Eybar stealing to end the game.
After all of the drama of the last five days and a memorable win, all the Indians wanted to talk about in the post-game interviews was the Milwaukee crowd. “I thought it would be like five, maybe 500,” Borowski said. “I thought it would be like an American Legion game. I mean, come on, less than 24 hours’ notice? I didn’t think anyone would be here.”