ARLINGTON, Texas -- Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger turned on a sinker down the middle and unleashed a 103 mph line drive that was certain to sail over the fence. As it traveled, however, the baseball's path began to noticeably slow. Atlanta Braves center fielder Cristian Pache caught it while standing on the warning track and smiled. Bellinger shook his head in disbelief. It was the ninth inning. The outcome, a 10-2 Braves win, was already in hand, and the wind had already altered at least two other home runs on Thursday night.
There was a 100 mph, 411-foot line drive from Joc Pederson in the fourth that also settled into Pache's glove. And a 98 mph, 342-foot drive from A.J. Pollock in the seventh -- with two on, none out and the Dodgers trailing by six -- that resulted in a deep flyout to right field.
"It was weird," said Dodgers corner infielder Edwin Rios, who nonetheless homered for the second straight game. "Even when you were hitting, it was blowing in your face."
Globe Life Field, the $1.2 billion facility that opened earlier this year, includes a retractable roof that was left open for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, subjecting players to gusts of wind that were blowing at 15 mph for the 7:08 p.m. CT first pitch.
Major League Baseball, which makes the final determination on whether the roof will be open or closed this postseason, has decided to keep the roof open unless there is a threat of rain in the forecast. The decision stems from recommendations by the league's health and safety experts, who have expressed the importance of ventilation in an effort to curb the spread of an airborne virus such as COVID-19. An open roof was considered even more important this week with about 11,000 fans in the stands.
But the winds, blowing in from right field, undoubtedly made an impact.
Plate umpire Cory Blaser, who wears contacts, initially had a hard time seeing. At one point, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to Blaser to inform him that his starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, and his first baseman, Max Muncy, were also having difficulty, according to the Fox broadcast. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman reached for his eyes after striking out in the first and said, "I can't see," as he made his way to the dugout, prompting him to temporarily try glasses. Teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. did the same in the outfield.
The Globe Life Field roof was open for only six of the Texas Rangers' 30 home games this season but all seven postseason games thus far.
Barring rain, that trend will probably continue through the end of the World Series.
"It was kind of getting in their eyes and they were tearing up," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's something that you encounter sometimes with wind is that it tears you up. But I think once they got out there they got used to it, and you deal with the elements, and you go from there because there's really nothing you can do about it."