Despite having the best record in the American League and a five-game lead atop the East, the New York Yankees are furious as they head into their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Yankees are angry that Major League Baseball officials forced them to play Thursday’s game with the Baltimore Orioles despite warnings that Hurricane Isabel was churning toward the region.
The game’s start was changed from 7:05 p.m. to 12:35 p.m. to beat Isabel’s arrival, but the rain began falling shortly before the Yankees’ Mike Mussina threw his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning.
“They’re canceling everything around here—schools are canceled, the government left, the Navy’s pulling out, and the Orioles and Yankees are playing baseball,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said.
The game ended in a 1-1 tie after five innings. Individual statistics will count, but officials from the commissioner’s office said the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in New York on either Sept. 26 or 27.
The circumstances surrounding the scheduling of the game, and the fashion in which it ended, infuriated the Yankees.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner issued a statement that said the commissioner’s office showed “terrible judgment and overall stupidity” in proceeding with the game.
“Schools, businesses, athletic events—virtually everything—was called off,” Steinbrenner said. “And for them to proceed was stupidity at its worst.”
The Devil Rays have lost eight of 10, capped with Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 34 GB, AL East.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Jose Contreras (5-2, 4.17 ERA). Contreras is 2-1 with a 3.83 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury on Aug. 24. The Cuban right-hander hasn’t received a decision in his last two starts, including the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Devil Rays on Sunday. He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out a season-high eight and walking two. The rookie has allowed seven hits and two runs over eight innings in two appearances against Tampa Bay this season but hasn’t figured into a decision.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Doug Waechter (3-0, 2.42 ERA). Waechter has been brilliant since being promoted from the minors on Aug. 27. The 22-year-old right-hander didn’t receive a decision in the Devil Rays’ win over the Yankees on Sunday, allowing two runs and four hits over five innings. However, he walked four and struck out three in his lone career appearance against New York.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Jeter, .323 avg.; Jason Giambi, 39 HRs; Hideki Matsui, 104 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 106 runs and 34 SBs. Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .310 avg., 31 HRs and 102 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 86 runs; Carl Crawford, 52 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 11-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - New York’s hitters went just 2-for-15 (.133) Sunday against RHP Waechter. … 1B Giambi needs one home run to become only the fourth Yankee to record multiple 40-home-run seasons, joining Babe Ruth (11), Lou Gehrig (5) and Mickey Mantle (4). … OF Matsui is two doubles shy of Joe DiMaggio’s team rookie record of 44. Devil Rays - The Devil Rays are a collective 5-for-29 (.179) against RHP Contreras. … OF Huff is one of four players in the majors who rank in the top 10 of triple crown categories, joining Toronto’s Vernon Wells, St. Louis’ Albert Puljos and Atlanta’s Gary Sheffield. … The Devil Rays lead the AL in walks allowed (610), hit batters (87), and wild pitches (62).
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 47-27 on the road; Devil Rays - 34-41 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - OF David Dellucci (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.