September 30th, 2011

Rain delay at Yankee Stadium, starters in limbo

The much-anticipated pitching duel between Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia could end up being a victory for the weather after heavy rain put Friday’s AL Division Series opener between the Tigers and Yankees into a second-inning delay.

While both starters gave up a first-inning run, light rain began falling into the bottom of the first inning. By the top of the second, it was a downpour, forming some ponding around the infield dirt as the Tigers went down in order.

Once Sabathia struck out Ryan Raburn for the third out, the Yankee Stadium grounds crew began to jog out of the dugout to begin some clean-up work on the infield in the middle of the inning. They stopped when crew chief Gerry Davis and the rest of the umpires gathered on the pitching mound with Yankees head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham.

Davis stopped the game at 9:07 p.m. ET, as Verlander stood at the top of the visiting dugout steps. From there, the countdown began to see how long the rain will persist, and how long the starting pitchers can keep their arms fresh and come back out if play resumes.

It was no coincidence that both managers put a starter in the bullpen on their postseason rosters. Tigers manager Jim Leyland specifically cited the risk of a rain delay as one reason why he placed Brad Penny in his bullpen, even though Penny hasn’t made a relief appearance since 2008.

The Yankees, who are going with a three-man rotation for the series, put A.J. Burnett in their bullpen. Burnett and Penny were teammates on the 2003 World Champion Marlins. If the rain delay lasts too long, they could become opposing pitchers Friday.

The Yankees had 22 games delayed by rain in the regular season, including a Major League best nine postponements.

Couple thoughts on the postseason roster

A few delayed thoughts on the 25-man roster the Tigers filed for the Division Series, and what it means for manager Jim Leyland’s decisions:

  • Leyland said last week one decision they had to make was whether to go with two or three lefty relievers, depending on the opponent. He also had an option in David Pauley, who held lefty hitters to a .194 average The fact that they went with two shows a ton of confidence in Daniel Schlereth as a lefty specialist. Take away some tail-end struggles, and he has earned it.
  • That said, don’t be surprised if Leyland turns to Al Alburquerque against a tough lefty at some point this series. His health makes him an equalizer in this bullpen.
  •  Victor Martinez catching was never going to happen, not even in a pinch. The Tigers had to have Omir Santos as a backup option. The fact that they had an extra spot to play with made it a no-brainer.
  • With both Andy Dirks and Don Kelly on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see what Leyland does in right field for Games 2 against right-hander Ivan Nova. He could stick with Magglio, knowing his postseason experience will give him a steady presence in the two spot, or he could play the matchups and go lefty against righty. But then, Nova has been stingier against left-handed hitters (.240 average, .681 OPS) than right-handed ones (.275, .730). Ordonez hits Freddy Garcia well, so I don’t think that will be a question.

ALDS Game 1: Tigers at Yankees

This is the lineup you would expect against a left-handed starter. No surprises needed. It does include Brandon Inge, who is batting .190 (11-for-58) off Sabathia but whose seven walks give him an on-base percentage of .299.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-14, double, triple, HR off Sabathia)
  2. Magglio Ordonez, RF (19-for-71, 5 doubles, 3 HRs)
  3. Delmon Young, LF (3-for-24, seven K’s)
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-16, 2 HR, 11 RBIs)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-25, 2 HR, 3 RBIs)
  6. Alex Avila, C (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  7. Ryan Raburn, 2B (4-for-23, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 8 K’s)
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS (1-for-17, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B (11-for-58, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 15 K’s)

P: Justin Verlander

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, SS (10-for-28 off Verlander)
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF (1-for-6, HR)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (4-for-23)
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (4-for-21, HR, 4 RBIs)
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B (3-for-22, HR, 3 RBIs, 7 K’s)
  6. Nick Swisher, RF (8-for-48)
  7. Jorge Posada, DH (7-for-21, 5 RBIs)
  8. Russell Martin, C (2-for-5)
  9. Brett Gardner, LF (3-for-8)

P: CC Sabathia

Postseason roster is out

The Tigers have released their roster for the Division Series and, as it looks a lot like what the clubhouse layout suggested yesterday. But it also leaves the Game 4 starter up in the air for a little while longer.

Both Rick Porcello and Brad Penny are on the roster. One of them is expected to start Game 4 if necessary. The other will work out of the bullpen.

Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth are the two left-handers in the bullpen, which will prompt manager Jim Leyland to pick and choose his spots for them. If there was another reliever spot to determine in the bullpen, it went to Ryan Perry over David Pauley and Duane Below.

Omir Santos is on as the backup catcher, along with Andy Dirks and Don Kelly as reserves.

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