Things were going badly enough for the Kansas City Royals when they opened a homestand on a five-game losing streak Friday night. Then a pipe broke in the right-field bullpen area and flooded the warning track.
And the Royals were winning.
The game, already underway, was delayed for 30 minutes. As water gushed from the bottom of the padded wall, the stadium crew frantically shut off the valves to that part of the ballpark and swept the standing water into the drains.
“I’m glad we’ve got (head groundskeeper) Trevor Vance and his grounds crew because they were on it,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, who observed the clean-up from the outfield grass. Otherwise, he said, the delay could have “been a lot longer than it needed to be.”
The delay occurred in the top of the fourth inning when starting pitcher Brad Keller was working to protect a 3-2 lead.
“I heard our bullpen coach was whistling,” Keller recalled as the game was held up. “I was confused. Why is the bullpen whistling down? Sure enough, the whole bullpen (staff) was standing up when I turned around to look.”
The players vacated the field while the cleanup took place.
“I was thinking we’re going to be here for awhile,” said Royals first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, who hit the game-tying homer in the ninth en route to a 5-4 Royals victory. “It was a weird deal, but I’m glad we got to keep going and the delay wasn’t that bad.”
When red “diamond dust” was spread along the warning track and the gushing water was slowed to a few drips, the Royals resumed the game after what might turn out to be the most bizarre delays of the year.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.