With his short hair soaked and sweat shirt dripping, the New York Yankees’ pitcher played catch in the outfield and ran light sprints through thick puddles on the warning track before finally grabbing some cover in the dugout.
Admittedly eager, Pettitte will have to wait for his chance to close out the Los Angeles Angels. Game 6 never started Saturday night and was rescheduled for 8:20 p.m. Sunday.
“The worst part of it is just the wait. This was the longest day ever. And I was just about to start getting in my routine and they come walking in there and tell me it got canceled,” Pettitte said. “You realize it’s a rainout. Get ready to do it tomorrow. But it’s just frustrating from the standpoint it’s just such a long day, when you’re so ready and so anxious to get the game going.”
The Yankees lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and need one victory to clinch their 40th pennant and reach the World Series for the first time since 2003. Game 7, if necessary, will be Monday in New York at 7:57 p.m.
If lefty Joe Saunders(notes) and the Angels can push the series that far, the rainout could benefit them. No. 1 starter John Lackey(notes), who took a shutout into the seventh inning of Game 5, could be available to pitch on three days’ rest.
“I think it benefits both teams certainly for resetting a bullpen and some things. It’s going to give us more options to look at, absolutely,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We still have our whole staff out there for tomorrow. John Lackey is not—he’s still in play tomorrow. We’ll get through Game 6. There’s no sense talking about a Game 7.”
Back home in sunny California, the Angels staved off elimination with a stirring comeback victory in Game 5 on Thursday night. Does the postponement Saturday stall their momentum?
“I don’t think it has that much to do with it. Guys are ready,” Scioscia said. “I’m sure it’s the same way in the other clubhouse. And again, as we talked about a little bit before, momentum is nice after you win a good game. But you’ve got to come back and rebuild it pitch by pitch. That’s what we’re going to have to do tomorrow.”
Rain had been falling off and on in New York since Friday night. A steady drizzle, with occasional spurts of heavy downpour, kept the tarp on the field all afternoon. The game was called by Major League Baseball nearly 2 hours before the scheduled first pitch of 7:57 p.m.
When 8 p.m. rolled around, it was teeming in the Bronx.
“The one thing is, you don’t want to stop and start,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “So I respect the decision that they made. I’m sure both clubs would have loved to have played. The weather is not permitting.”
Saunders remains scheduled to start Game 6 for Los Angeles against the 37-year-old Pettitte, who is looking to set a pair of major league records. The Yankees’ left-hander owns four series-clinching wins among his 15 career postseason victories—both tied for the most in baseball history.
“I just feel like I’m a byproduct of a lot of great teams, a lot of great players that have been surrounding me and have been helping me be able to do those things,” Pettitte said.
Sabathia, 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in three playoff outings this year, would start Game 7 if needed. If not, he could pitch the World Series opener Wednesday night at home against Philadelphia.
Sabathia tossed eight strong innings on three days’ rest in a 10-1 victory over the Angels on Tuesday.
“I never thought that they would skip me,” Pettitte said.
And Girardi never considered it.
“Andy has pitched in a ton of big, big games in his career. We just like him in this spot. We’re not looking ahead. I don’t think you can afford to look ahead,” Girardi said. “We’re going to stick with Andy and give CC an extra day. … The extra day we think could physically help him.”
Because of first-round sweeps and all the off days built into the playoff schedule, the Angels and Yankees have both played eight games in 20 days since the regular season ended Oct. 4.
“I think that’s the wrong template for baseball,” Scioscia said.
Saunders, however, didn’t sound bothered by the rainout.
“Come tomorrow, game on. Turn the switch on again,” he said.
Weaver pitched in relief in Game 5. He would be slated to start Game 7 if the Angels don’t switch to Lackey.
“That’s our horse. He has a little bit more experience in these situations,” Weaver said. “I’m here to do whatever they need.”
Lackey didn’t want to look that far ahead.
“I’ve been working out and watching football,” he said. “We’ve got to win tomorrow.”
The gates opened at Yankee Stadium about an hour before Game 6 was postponed. Fans holding tickets for Saturday must use them Sunday night.
“Maybe the extra day helps us more. I’m not really sure. I’m sure there will be a lot written about it,” Girardi said. “We’ve had a lot of rain in New York this year. So we’ve been through this a lot.”
“I’ve got to go find a shirt,” he said.