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Power Outage at Tigers-Red Sox Blamed on ‘Random Cable Failure’

American League Championship Series
Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers leads off of first base in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 15, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Photographer: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Detroit utility responsible for electricity at the Tigers’ baseball stadium said an outage that interrupted yesterday’s playoff game against the Boston Red Sox was isolated and that it doesn’t expect another incident.

The American League Championship Series game at Comerica Park was halted for 17 minutes after lights went out during the middle of the second inning. The interruption of play briefly quieted a crowd cheering its baseball team as Detroit endures the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

“This was just a random cable failure,” Steve Kurmas, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric Co., a unit of DTE Energy Co., said yesterday by telephone. “It’s unfortunate that it occurred during a big ballgame, but it’s not a sign of any larger problem or in any way related to the city’s financial situation.”

The Tigers lost 1-0 in Detroit’s first home game of the best-of-seven Major League Baseball series, putting them behind two games to one. Winning the ALCS would put the Tigers in the World Series for a second straight season and offer a reprieve for a city that filed an $18 billion bankruptcy in July. Detroit’s financial crisis has put workers’ pensions, city parks and the museum’s art collection at risk.

Game four of the series is scheduled for tonight in Detroit. Yesterday’s contest started just after 4 p.m. and was scoreless in the middle of the second inning when power went out on the scoreboard and light towers around the stadium.

Verlander’s Strikeouts

The delay didn’t seem to have any effect on Tigers starter Justin Verlander. He struck out three batters in the second inning before the failure, and then struck out the side again in the third inning -- giving him six straight strikeouts. He did not allow a hit in the first three innings.

“I wasn’t happy about it, obviously, I was in a groove,” Verlander told reporters after the game. “But it had no effect. I just treated it like a long inning.”

The power failure was the second at a major sporting event this year. The Super Bowl in February was delayed 34 minutes at the Superdome in New Orleans because of a power failure. It was caused by an electrical relay installed to regulate the flow, according to Entergy Corp., which owns the utility that supplies power to the city.

A Monday night football game in San Francisco in December 2011 was twice delayed by power failures at Candlestick Park. The start of that game was delayed 20 minutes after the lights went out, and play was halted for about 16 minutes during the second quarter by another failure, which the 49ers said was caused by offsite transformer problems.

Street Lights

Broken street lights, long waits for police and ambulance services and unreliable buses are among the challenges plaguing Detroit, which received a commitment for $320 million of federal, state and private aid last month during a visit by top White House officials.

The city’s former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, 43, was sentenced this month to 28 years in prison after being convicted of 24 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, bribery and tax evasion. He was mayor from 2002 until 2008.

The U.S. alleged that his conduct worsened Detroit’s fiscal woes a half-decade before it filed for bankruptcy.

Yesterday’s power cable failure was in the vicinity of Comerica Park and compromised the feed to the stadium, causing its equipment to fail, Vanessa Waters, a DTE spokeswoman, said by telephone.

DTE positions underground and above-ground emergency crews near the ballpark in case of problems, and those staff were present for the game last night, said Kurmas, the COO.

“If there is an interruption, we can get it restored as quickly as possible and make the city look as best as we can and serve our team,” he said. “Go Tigers.”

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