The AL East leaders look to extend the Devil Rays’ losing streak to nine games when the teams continue a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
Monday’s scheduled series-opening doubleheader turned into a long day and night of controversy in the Bronx.
Originally scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., the start time was pushed back two hours on Sunday as the Devil Rays continued to have difficulty getting out of Tampa Bay due to Hurricane Frances.
The Devil Rays gathered at Tropicana Field at 8 a.m, departed the ballpark at 1 p.m. and took off from Tampa International Airport at 2:55 p.m. The team arrived at LaGuardia Airport at 5:20 p.m. and pulled up to Yankee Stadium in two buses 45 minutes later.
Because of the delay, the commissioner’s office told the teams to play one game at 7 p.m. and said it would decide later on when to reschedule the second game.
The Yankees, citing the Devil Rays’ late arrival time, asked that the first game be forfeited, a request that was shot down quickly by commissioner Bud Selig.
“Given the stage of the season we are in, and the exciting pennant races, it is critical that we do everything to decide the championship on the field,” Selig said in a statement.
The Yankees did just that, cruising to a 7-4 victory over the Devil Rays.
Fans that filtered into Yankee Stadium as early as 11 a.m. were treated to another brilliant pitching performance by Orlando Hernandez and Alex Rodriguez’s three-run double as New York improved to 11-4 against Tampa Bay this season.
Rodriguez, the reigning AL MVP, had been 0-for-10 with the bases loaded this season and hitless in 11 at-bats with the bases full since his 11th-inning grand slam at Texas off Boston’s Todd Jones on July 31, 2003. He batted in the No. 2 slot for the first time this year, inserted between Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield.
Jorge Cantu hit his first career homer and Geoff Blum also went deep for the Devil Rays, who were without outfielder Aubrey Huff. Huff could not get from his home, which is in a low-lying area, to Tropicana Field on Monday.