The Royals and Cardinals should have known something was up when the first pitch was delayed an hour by rain.
The game moved quickly after that — right up until the top of the ninth inning, with the Royals leading and the rain back in force. Umpire crew chief Joe West had a decision to make.
With the game the last one between the two teams this season, a new rule added this year allowed West to call the game in a decision that would wipe out the top of the ninth and give the Cardinals a 2-1 win, based on the score from the previous completed inning.
West chose to wait out the rain. And wait. And wait some more. After 4 1/2 miserable hours, the game resumed shortly after 3 a.m. CDT and the final out came at 3:14 a.m. Kansas City left for a series in Texas and the Cardinals went home to sleep a bit before a home series against San Francisco.
The umpiring crew? They had a matinee in Chicago, with the first pitch scheduled just 10 hours after the final out in St. Louis.
"We worry about that game when we get to that one," West told reporters. "We had to worry about this game tonight."
The near-capacity crowd of 43,916 was down to a couple hundred hardy souls when the game ended.
"I wasn't sure we were going to get that game in, and to lose in that fashion after coming back in the ninth inning wouldn't have been right," said Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team snapped an eight-game skid with the victory. "I credit Joe West for hanging in there. I credit their grounds crew for getting the field playable."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak lobbied during the delay for an eight-inning St. Louis win. Matheny said the field was "bad."
"And I thought our grounds crew did a tremendous job," Matheny added. "This comes down to one of my guys getting hurt, it's a big deal."
West said the Cardinals did not express their frustrations to him directly, made no statement and did not lodge a protest.