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Blue Jays close roof at Rogers Centre for Dickey’s sake

The Toronto Blue Jays have opted to close the roof at the Rogers Centre for Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (file photo)

DOMINICK REUTER/REUTERS

Toronto enjoyed a beautiful Indian summer day, warm sunshine and blue skies, folks walking around in summer gear, but when fans arrived at the Rogers Centre in the evening for the Blue Jays game against the Tampa Bay Rays, they discovered the retractable roof to be closed.

Rays manager Joe Maddon, whose club could seal a playoff berth on Friday, wondered about the situaiton too, sardonically citing no "high probability of rain or sleet or snow". Understanding the citizenry "here love to be outdoors, it's kind of unusual they should close the roof on such a beautiful evening here in Toronto," he said.

The club didn't cite a reason for the closure. Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey has theorized that he can control his knuckleball better with the roof closed. In Dickey's past three starts with the roof closed, he has held opponents to six earned runs in 20-1/3 innings, a 2.65 earned run average, versus his overall ERA of .427.

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"You would think with the atmospheric conditions, they wouldn't be able to [keep the roof closed]," Maddon said. "I would think there's got to be parametres for the roof to be open or closed... some kind of standard operating procedure in each ball park for the roof to be open or closed, based on forecast."

Informed that it may be closed to favour the knuckleball, Maddon said: "I'm not really worried about it. I don't want to go there."

Jays manager John Gibbons claimed he had no control over the decision.

Maddon said: "I totally believe Gibby. I love Gibby. But I also know he's got it closed for a reason."

Dickey's numbers have improved over the course of the year, leaving open the question of his preparedness for the season, and perhaps rendering irrelevant the idea that the roof open or closed matters.

In May, he allowed hitters a .343 on-base percentage versus .283 in September, and he struck out 1.82 batters for every walk allowed in May, versus a 4.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio this month.

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