Tigers-Yankees playoff opener suspended by rain

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New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia leaves the field during the second inning against the Detroit Tigers during Game 1 of baseball's American League division series Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Before they could really get rolling, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia were done. A pair of aces washed away after fewer than 30 pitches.

The playoff opener between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees was suspended because of rain in the second inning Friday night, wiping out both No. 1 starters for a few days. The game will resume Saturday night with the score tied at 1, but neither perennial All-Star will be back on the mound until they get some rest.

"I do feel bad for the national audience," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Certainly, it was really a marquee matchup. That's a little sad, but that's just the way it is."

Verlander started for Detroit against Sabathia in a highly anticipated matchup between two of baseball's best pitchers. The teams played for 30 minutes before the game was halted.

According to a rule adopted by Major League Baseball after rain and snow wreaked havoc with the 2008 World Series, the game is not postponed. So it will pick up Saturday night at the point of suspension — weather permitting — with the Yankees coming to bat in the bottom of the second inning. The forecast calls for rain through late Saturday night.

Neither ace is scheduled to pitch again until at least Game 3 on Monday, likely limiting both to one start even if the best-of-five American League series goes the distance.

"It's definitely disappointing," Sabathia said. "It looked like it was going to be a good game."

Instead, what was already a wild week for baseball became a wet one, too.

So why did the game start if steady showers were on the way? The commissioner's office consulted three weather services Friday before making a decision, and Yankees president Randy Levine said the rain "came from nowhere."

Fooled by the radar.


"We certainly were not going to start a game if we had a forecast of heavy rain. Whether it was CC or Justin or two other guys, because it certainly isn't fair to either club," said Joe Torre, executive vice president of baseball operations for MLB. "Our forecast was light, intermittent showers. Nothing that was threatening, except until late tonight. Obviously that forecast changed, and we came up with the result that we did."

Delmon Young homered for the Tigers and Alex Rodriguez had an RBI groundout, both in the first inning. All statistics from Friday night will count.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said rookie right-hander Ivan Nova will be on the mound when the game resumes Saturday at 8:37 p.m. He had been slated to go in Game 2, which was moved back to Sunday at 3:07 p.m., a scheduled day off in the series.

MLB said there will not be a doubleheader during the series.

"Just had a nice bullpen in front of half of America today," Verlander said. "It was a little disappointing. Now I've got a start Monday to look forward to, start getting prepared for that."

Freddy Garcia will pitch the second game for New York instead of Game 3, Girardi said, adding that he wasn't sure yet when Sabathia would go again.

"I want the ball as much as possible," the big lefty said.

Sabathia added that he would make his pitch to Girardi to start Sunday, but the manager said: "It's not the right thing to do."

Doug Fister, the Tigers' scheduled starter for Game 2, will pitch when Game 1 resumes. Max Scherzer was moved up from Game 3 to Game 2 and Verlander will start Game 3 on Monday.

"This is not a big deal. Everybody does the best they can. Everybody is kind of scurrying around right now. There's no sense getting excited," Leyland said. "I don't worry about stuff like that. I think when the manager makes a big deal about something like that, it affects the players. It is what it is. Good Lord, it rained. So what?"

Verlander and Fister are both right-handed. But the Tigers fielded a lineup Friday night that was stacked with right-handed hitters against Sabathia. Now that same group will have to remain in the game, at least at first, against Nova.

"That's the one little dilemma probably, but it will work out," Leyland said. "I'm going to keep my lineup in there and see how the game plays out. Obviously, I'm not going to start pulling guys out."

Verlander, who won the pitching version of the Triple Crown in the AL this season, threw 25 pitches in the first inning. Rain began falling with Mark Teixeira at the plate, the eighth batter of the game.

The downpour intensified in the top of the second as Sabathia, who tossed 27 pitches, worked a perfect inning with a pair of strikeouts. Fans at Yankee Stadium scampered up the aisles for cover on the concourse, and a shimmering pool of water formed in front of home plate. Tigers second baseman Ryan Raburn shook the raindrops off his helmet and tried to dry his bat by wiping it under his arm.

After the inning, all six umpires huddled with a member of the Yankee Stadium grounds crew at the mound and then called for the tarp. The teams never got back on the field and the game was suspended after a 77-minute delay.

"Heck of a game. It was great," Leyland said, drawing laughs.

The rain stopped briefly and the grounds crew pulled the tarp off the infield at 9:36 p.m. As workers were getting the field ready, heavy showers picked up again and the tarp was placed back on at 9:47.

After a wait of 37 more minutes, the announcement was made in the ballpark that the game had been called, bringing boos from the crowd.

Rain mucked up the major league schedule all season — and the Yankees were hit the hardest. There were 54 postponements around the big leagues, more than double the 21 in 2010.

The Yankees had nine games postponed, more than any other team, and 13 others delayed due to weather.

Even in the playoffs, the rainy season rolls on.

"It's perfect," Girardi said. "We've been through this all year long. It's not what either club wanted. Both clubs have to deal with it. The one thing I probably learned as much as any other, you cannot fight Mother Nature."

NOTES: Young was acquired from Minnesota in a quiet trade on Aug. 15. His first postseason homer barely cleared the short porch in right. ... Sabathia struck out four in two innings. Verlander walked two in the first but did not allow a hit.