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.