Recapping baseball’s wet and wacky first half

The New York Mets' Matt Harvey delivers a pitch during the first inningagainst the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in New  York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
The New York Mets' Matt Harvey delivers a pitch during the first inningagainst the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK — Just for fun, let’s turn back baseball’s clock a few months.

A well-rested Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals are destined to face Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series. The Astros are in first place. Manny Ramirez is playing in Taiwan. And no one is quite sure how to pronounce the name of this Puig guy.

Well, a few things are still the same: Homer Bailey remains the last guy to throw a no-hitter, Miguel Cabrera swings the most devastating bat in the majors and the drug cloud isn’t going away anytime soon.

As the All-Star game approaches Tuesday at Citi Field, here’s a look at the first half of the season:

Extra! Extra!

By the time Matt Harvey and the New York Mets let the hovering seagulls take over AT&T Park well past midnight, they were wiped out. Last week’s win at San Francisco took 16 innings; the Mets already had lost a 20-inning game and a pair of 15-inning contests.

“I’ve never heard of anything like this. It’s unbelievable,” manager Terry Collins said. “At least we’re used to it.”

All over, fans are getting way more than their money’s worth. Going into this weekend, 19 games had lasted at least 14 innings; there were a total of 20 last year.

“Is a lunar eclipse coming?” Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick wondered. “I have no idea.”

Wacky weather

Even in ski country, this was a bit extreme: When the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies started up at Coors Field in late April, it was 23 degrees. That made it the coldest game-time temperature in STATS’ records, dating back more than two decades.

Braves pitcher Mike Minor threw six innings and won — in short sleeves, no less. He figured long sleeves wouldn’t help much. He also got a trainer to rub his arms, back and thighs with a heating ointment.

“I was burning up out there,” he said, smiling.

There was snow at Target Field, hail at Yankee Stadium and buckets of rain from coast to coast. More than 30 games postponed so far, going in the weekend. Last year? Just 21 for the whole season.

The crummy conditions have wreaked havoc with the schedule. With interleague games almost every day, there’s not a lot of wiggle room for makeups. So there has been a push to get the games in: Tampa Bay waited out almost five hours of rain delays in Cleveland to win a game that started on a Friday night in May and finished on an early Saturday in June. The Mets played in three time zones in three days.

In St. Louis, there was a 4½-hour rain delay in the ninth inning before Kansas City outlasted the Cardinals. The game ended at 3:14 a.m. at Busch Stadium and created travel trouble for the umpires, too: They worked at Wrigley Field in Chicago the next afternoon.

“We worry about that game when we get to that one,” crew chief Joe West said. “We had to worry about this game tonight.”

And a Giants-Reds rainout in Cincinnati had the teams talking about making it up at Coors Field, of all places. A neutral site in Denver might be the most convenient spot for both clubs later this year.

New wave

Be it Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, the face of baseball is changing. Young stars are dominating and revving up the debate: Should Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig — that’s “Pweeg” — be on the All-Star team?

Jeff Locke is trying to pitch Pittsburgh to its first playoff spot in two decades, Shelby Miller is dealing in St. Louis and Wil Myers is finding his stroke in Tampa Bay while Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin are leading Arizona. They were all excelling at the same time former perennial All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Ramirez were toiling in the minors.

Oh, and let’s salute Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who has proved HR-or-K hitters can learn the strike zone.

Summer surprises

Overhauled Toronto and R.A. Dickey, the power-happy Angels with Hamilton, plus the revamped Dodgers have all struggled to reach .500. The Nationals also hit a wall — rather, Harper did while chasing a ball, landing on the disabled list.

Houston moved to the American League and got off a terrific start, beating Texas in the season opener. Reality quickly set in: Their next time out, the overmatched Astros came within an out of having Yu Darvish throw a perfect game against them.

Much harder to figure: Matt Cain and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. A year ago, Cain pitched a perfect game. This year, he had one start when he gave up nine runs in an inning, another when he permitted nine hits in an inning. And earlier this week, he was chased in the first inning.

Added up, the pitching-rich Giants fell far below the break-even point as the All-Star break neared.

“For the way we think we are as a group and the team that we are,” Cain said, “we feel like this is really, really funky.”