Little rain, but Tigers and Yankees postponed to Thursday

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NEW YORK (AP)—It was hard to figure out what was going on at Yankee Stadium.

While the Tigers’ Justin Verlander threw in the outfield, getting ready for a game that wouldn’t be played Wednesday night, the Yankees’ Mike Mussina was nowhere to be seen. The fans in the stands wondered what was going on.

Game 2 of the AL playoff series between Detroit and New York was postponed after a wait of nearly 2 hours—most of it with little or no rain falling.

“Where’s the rain? Let them play!” one fan yelled over and over after the postponement was announced by public address announcer Bob Sheppard.

Game 2 was rescheduled for 1:09 p.m. Thursday, with Verlander (17-9) opposed by Mussina (15-7). The teams will lose the travel day, and Game 3 will be in Detroit at 8:09 p.m. Friday.

The Yankees lead 1-0 in the best-of-five series.

Baseball delayed the 8:09 p.m. start because rain was forecast. About 90 minutes later, Verlander went to left field and starting throwing but never went to the bullpen mound.

“Obviously, I went out there and I got stretched a little bit,” the bewildered pitcher said. “We were informed the game time was at 10 o’clock. Obviously, I got out there and Mussina’s not out there. Nobody’s out there.”

Detroit players said the first indication they got of a postponement was when a member of the grounds crew went over to pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

Having checked out of the Grand Hyatt on Manhattan’s East Side, the Tigers had to change hotels and wound up at the New York Hilton and Towers on the West Side.

When it appeared that the game would start, Mussina said the Yankees objected.

“Quite a few of us said, ‘This is crazy. You’re going to mess up the whole series,’ ” he said. “We’d play a couple innings and then get rained out, then we’ve got to go play again tomorrow and it’s just better this way. Even if it stopped raining 10 minutes from now it’s better this way.”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, reached at his home in Milwaukee, declined comment, referring questions to Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office.

“We wanted to get the game in. We thought we could,” Solomon said. “The forecast indicated we could get in two, three innings tops and would have to stop against for an hour-and-a-half to two hours. We didn’t want to burn up two pitchers if we had that coming through. We reconvened, talked and we made a decision jointly with the commissioner.”

Solomon said both teams were informed of the rainout at approximately the same time but not simultaneously because cell phones didn’t work underneath the ballpark. He said Verlander hadn’t warmed up fully.

“He did some soft tossing and some stretching, but he didn’t do any real pitching,” Solomon said.

Verlander said the biggest challenge would be calming down Wednesday night and getting ready to pitch Thursday.

“It might be pretty tough to get sleep tonight, you know, once I got up for the game tonight,” he said.

New York won Tuesday’s opener 8-4 behind Chien-Ming Wang’s pitching and Derek Jeter’s 5-for-5 night. Randy Johnson is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees in Game 3 against Kenny Rogers.

“It rains all the time when I pitch so it’s not that big of deal,” Mussina said. “This is routine for me. Rain, it’s always routine.”

Both teams took batting practice. Shortly after the national anthem, the players went back to their clubhouses, and the tarp was put over the infield. A light rain began at 8:24 p.m., and it rained off and on until the grounds crew removed the tarp at 9:37 p.m.

“At that point in time, we thought we would be able to go,” Solomon said. “We then sat down and looked at the forecast again.”

Solomon said it would be too strong to say the Yankees “pressed” for a postponement.

During the regular season, games usually continue through rain of that magnitude. At 9:55 p.m., even though it wasn’t raining, the grounds crew picked up the bases and put the tarp back on, and indication no ball would be played.

At 11:15, by the way, the hard rain and lightning finally came.

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