Rainout washes away best-laid rotation plans

CC Sabathia gets ready to throw a pitch while heavy rain falls during Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK – Like we were saying, Justin Verlander(notes) wouldn't reach the second inning, CC Sabathia(notes) would come out after the second, and this American League division series will open – re-open, actually – with a Doug Fister(notes)-Ivan Nova showdown.

When a Friday afternoon weather forecast of light intermittent showers deteriorated into an evening of sky-opening, tarp-dancing rain, Game 1 between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers was suspended in the bottom of the second inning until Saturday night, Game 2 was rescheduled for Sunday afternoon, and both managers could push their aces to Monday's Game 3 in Detroit.

When the Tigers take the field next, weather permitting, the score will be tied, 1-1.

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At first blush, the suspension would appear to favor the Tigers, as Sabathia was scheduled for Games 1 and 4. The series would have had to reach a fifth game for Verlander to pitch twice. And the loss of Sunday's off day likely brought A.J. Burnett(notes) (and his 5.15 ERA) into the series, for Game 4.

Sabathia said, however, that he might lobby manager Joe Girardi for a shot at Sunday's start, depending on how he felt Saturday. On Friday night he threw 27 pitches, and Delmon Young(notes) hit one of them into the right-field seats.

"If that means I get the ball as many times as possible," Sabathia said, "I'm all for it."

Girardi did not seem open to the conversation.


"I don't think that's the right thing to do," he said.

Indeed, Girardi wouldn't officially name Sabathia as the Game 3 starter, but it makes the most sense.

[Photos: Rain pours down on teams at Yankee Stadium]

Verlander, who threw 25 pitches in a wobbly, two-walk first inning, had no such inclination. His manager, Jim Leyland, had scheduled four pitchers for the series. The order, following Verlander, was Fister, Max Scherzer(notes) and Rick Porcello(notes).

To review, the probable/best guess pitching matchups going forward:

Saturday, Game 1, in New York: Doug Fister vs. Ivan Nova(notes)
Sunday, Game 2, in New York: Max Scherzer vs. Freddy Garcia(notes)
Monday, Game 3, in Detroit: CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander
Tuesday, Game 4, in Detroit: A.J. Burnett vs. Rick Porcello
Thursday, Game 5, in New York: Fister vs. Nova


After waiting for more than an hour, the score tied and the rain relentless, Major League Baseball officials became convinced the weather radars were not lying.

Neither manager seemed particularly put off that MLB would start a game in the way of such a storm, washing out both their No. 1 starters.

"This is not a big deal," Leyland said. "Everybody does the best they can. Everybody is kind of scurrying around right now. There's no sense getting excited. It's the way it is."

Since the Yankees will replace the left-handed Sabathia with the right-handed Nova, Leyland's lineup isn't exactly how he might like it. Against a right-hander, he'd probably prefer Wilson Betemit(notes) at third base and Ramon Santiago(notes) at second, rather than have Brandon Inge(notes) and Ryan Raburn(notes) in those spots, something he called, "one little dilemma."


"But," Leyland said, "it will work out. I'm going to keep my lineup in there and see how the game plays out. Obviously, I'm not going to start pulling guys out. I'm not going to change my lineup in the bottom of the second inning tomorrow."

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The Yankees have made a habit of tarps and puddles and disappointed crowds; during the regular season they sat through nine postponed games and 13 rain delays.

On Friday night, Sabathia looked sharp, the Tigers looked a little off their game, and now they'll drag the whole thing into Saturday, with new pitchers and, perhaps, a new sky.


"Yeah, he did look sharp," Girardi said. "As I said, what are you going to do? There's nothing we can do about it now. It's too late to put a roof on."

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