The weather isn’t cooperating with the final homestand at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays try again to play Saturday with a day-night doubleheader one day after the opener of this three-game set was postponed by rain.
The last homestand at the 85-year-old ballpark will begin with the Yankees (77-69) in fourth place in the AL East and visiting Tampa Bay (87-57) atop the division. If they play Saturday, it will begin the start of a 10-game homestand with the final game scheduled for Sept. 21 against Baltimore.
A mainstay in the Bronx since 1923, Yankee Stadium has compiled perhaps a richer history than any other ballpark. However, because of the struggles of the Yankees and also in part due to the rise of Rays, the venerable stadium will likely not host a postseason game for the first time in 14 years.
“You don’t ever want to think that a regular-season game could be your last game here at Yankee Stadium,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That has not been the case for a long time, and you don’t want to start thinking that way.”
Tampa Bay is 25-63 all time at Yankee Stadium, but may get a boost this weekend, with Evan Longoria possibly set to return after missing five weeks due to a broken wrist. The rookie third baseman had 22 home runs and 71 RBIs in 104 games before the injury.
“He’s feeling pretty frisky right now. There’s a decent chance that he might be out there tomorrow,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday.
James Shields (12-8, 3.64 ERA) will pitch the opener for Tampa Bay. Shields has been very consistent since the All-Star break, going 5-2 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 starts, including an eight-inning outing last Saturday at Toronto in which he gave up three runs in a 7-4, 12-inning loss.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts against New York this season, and he’s 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in four career outings at Yankee Stadium.
He’ll be opposed by Mike Mussina (17-8, 3.48), who is bidding for his first 20-win season. The veteran right-hander lost for the first time since July 28 when he yielded four runs in six innings in a 5-2 loss at Seattle on Sunday.
Mussina is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season, and he’s 8-1 with a 1.92 ERA in nine career outings against them at Yankee Stadium.
Tampa Bay will start Matt Garza (11-9, 3.55) in the second game. He took a hard-luck loss at Toronto on Sunday, allowing the lone run in seven innings in a 1-0 defeat.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts versus the Yankees in 2008.
Sidney Ponson will take the mound for the Yankees in the nightcap. While the right-hander beat Seattle 7-4 on Saturday after allowing three runs in six innings, Ponson (8-5, 5.10) has an 11.49 ERA in his last four starts, allowing 29 hits in 15 2-3 innings.
He’s 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season.
New York has been one of the few clubs to handle Tampa Bay this season, winning nine of 15 meetings.