The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers may be without the services of their ace pitchers for several days because Game 1 of their Major League Baseball playoff series was postponed by rain after 1 1/2 innings.
Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia won’t come back tonight when the teams resume play at Yankee Stadium in New York with the score tied 1-1. Both teams said they’ll pitch their scheduled Game 2 starters, with rookie Ivan Nova taking over for the Yankees and Doug Fister going for the Tigers.
Coming into the American League Division Series, both teams planned to pitch their aces twice if the matchup went a full five games. The postponement will likely change those plans, as Verlander and Sabathia -- who ranked 1-2 in the AL in wins this season -- may not be available again until Game 3.
“It’s not what either club wanted,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at a news conference. “Both clubs have to deal with it. The one thing I probably learned as much as any other this season, you cannot fight Mother Nature.”
Verlander threw 25 pitches in the first inning and Sabathia tossed 27 over two innings before rain halted play last night. After a delay of 1 hour, 17 minutes, the game was suspended. It will resume tonight at 8:37 p.m. New York time with the Yankees batting in the bottom of the second inning.
“There was so much buildup and anticipation coming into the game, the playoffs,” said Sabathia, whose 19 wins were second in the AL behind Verlander’s major league-leading 24. “To have it rained out is disappointing.”
The suspension pushes Game 2 back to tomorrow at 3:07 p.m. and eliminates a travel day in the series. Game 3 is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Detroit, with Game 4 the following day.
Tonight’s forecast in New York calls for a 40 percent chance of showers, according to the National Weather Service.
“We’re going to have to come up with a plan if we get rained out,” said Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “We hope the forecast is going to be better than we were told.”
The Yankees had 22 games affected by weather during the regular season, including a major league-high nine rainouts. Last night’s rain cost the Yankees their most dependable pitcher, as Sabathia was making his eighth Game 1 playoff start, tied for the second most in baseball history.
“He did look sharp,” Girardi said of Sabathia, who gave up a first-inning home run to Delmon Young last night and had four strikeouts. “What are you going to do? There’s nothing we can do about it now. It’s too late to put a roof on.”
Verlander has won 12 straight decisions for the Tigers, with his last loss coming on July 15. The Yankees scored their first-inning run last night without a hit, as Derek Jeter reached base on a strikeout and scored on a groundout.
“I feel bad for the national audience and the fans that were here,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters. “It was really a marquee matchup. That’s a little sad, but that’s the way it is.”
The Yankees now turn to Nova, who went 16-4 this season as a rookie. The Tigers will go with Fister, who was voted the AL pitcher of the month for September after going 5-0 with a 0.53 earned run average in five starts.
Girardi said Freddy Garcia will pitch Game 2 for the Yankees, while the Tigers will start Max Scherzer. Whether Sabathia is able to return for Game 3 hasn’t been determined, though Sabathia said he wants to pitch as soon as he can.
“That’s something we’ll continue to discuss,” Girardi said. “I’m going to wait to see how he feels Saturday and Sunday, and then we’ll go from there. The thing is, when CC goes out there, you want a rested and sharp CC.”