Humidity is generally good for R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball. Fog, apparently, is not.
To be fair, a mist over U.S. Cellular Field that at its best looked like the smoke from a dry-ice machine and at its worst formed a soupy film in the sky, made things miserable for everybody in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 10-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Even Jose Bautista, who bashed two home runs and matched a career-high with five RBIs the day after getting ejected in the ninth inning, repeatedly threw his hands up in the air because he couldn’t track the ball, and drives into the air for both teams were often an adventure.
“A couple moments it was pretty hard to see,” said Bautista. “You looked up and that fog was pretty dense and similar in colour to the baseball. If they would have hit any balls up in the air at certain points, and they did, luckily none to me, I couldn’t see anything, and I’m sure they felt the same way.
“I don’t know if they’ve played through that before here, but it seems like they were fine with going ahead and playing in a game like that. If I would have been on the mound, and I had the point of view that I had from the outfield, there’s no way I would have wanted that game to continue on.”
Play was delayed for 70 minutes with two outs in the bottom of the third when the fog reduced visibility to the point the umpires were left with little choice.
“It came in pretty heavy, quickly,” said Dickey. “The first inning was great, I was warming up, it was a beautiful day and then out of the blue it rolled in on top of the lights and that was that. When they called the game I couldn’t even see Jose standing in the outfield.”
Dickey, coming off an 8.1-inning gem in San Francisco, had his troubles on both sides of the delay. He coughed up three runs in the second on Hector Gimenez’s sacrifice fly and Alejandro De Aza’s two-run single, plus an Adam Dunn solo shot in the third before play was stopped, and then a three-run blast by Dunn once it resumed.
“It’s weird,” said Dickey. “I’ve been playing for a long time and that’s the first game I’ve ever played in those conditions. It was challenging and I didn’t really have anything to go back and say, ‘OK, I’ve done this and this in these conditions.’ But I had some opportunities to make big pitches with two outs but unfortunately the knuckleball is tough, sometimes when it doesn’t break it can just sit there on a tee for guys like Adam Dunn to hit out of the park, and that’s exactly what he did.”
As a result, Dickey surrendered leads of 2-0 and 5-4 handed to him by Bautista’s blasts, struggling to record outs with his knuckler refusing to dance through the moist mess. He gave up seven runs on 10 hits with no walks and no strikeouts.
“It had some factor to it,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale said of the weather affecting Dickey’s performance. “I’m sure when you speak to him it wasn’t his best one, but it was a night where you look at your team, you look at your players just battle and grind and see what happens. We had some chances as the game went on and it was that kind of game. Whoever made the play or pitch or got the big hit. I was very happy with our effort but it was challenging. I’ve never been part of a fog out if that’s what you want to call it but this is Chicago and the weather can be tricky here for sure.”