It’s double trouble
Let’s play two?
The two teams, Major League Baseball officials, and the umpires decided on a doubleheader today (4:10 and 9:05 p.m.) rather than tomorrow, or one on Monday.
The Yankees didn’t want to play a doubleheader tomorrow because they didn’t want the AL East title/home-field advantage to be decided with two games on the final day of the season. A Monday makeup was never truly in play, though there were plenty of rumors floating around.
Normally, the Red Sox would be heavily criticized for allowing fans to stay in the ballpark until 10:30 with no game, but in this case, the teams and MLB had to go all out to see if they could play.
Entering today’s twin bill, the Yankees hold a half-game lead over the Rays, who were thumped by the Royals last night.
“We did everything we could to play this game,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We felt we had a start time at 10 o’clock and then it started to rain again. The window had closed real fast.’’
Girardi didn’t have a problem with the way things were handled or the length to which MLB went to play this game. The Sox certainly benefited from concession stands being open for the same amount of time a game normally takes, and signs on the scoreboard reminded fans that concession stands were open and serving $12 lobster rolls and beer.
The Red Sox also make out because they get to close up shop right after tomorrow afternoon’s finale, while the Yankees get only a few days to rest before the playoffs begin Wednesday against Texas or Minnesota.
Girardi now has to juggle his personnel for an unwanted doubleheader. He said last night he didn’t see Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter playing both games. He also said there are plenty of players who can play both games and use Monday and Tuesday to rest.
Girardi will stick with last night’s starter, Andy Pettitte, in the first game and go with A.J. Burnett in the nightcap, critical games for both pitchers. The Red Sox whacked Pettitte, 18-10 career vs. Boston, for six earned runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings last week at Yankee Stadium, and lefthanded hitters went 4 for 5 against him. Pettitte has made only three starts since the All-Star break (after going 11-2) because of a groin injury, so he’s hoping to go into the postseason on a positive note.
Ditto for Burnett, who has been a walking disaster. He might be pitching for a spot in the playoff rotation. Burnett had his second-shortest outing of the year in his last start vs. Toronto, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. He’s won just one of 11 starts since Aug. 2, going 1-7 with a 6.98 ERA. In his last start at Fenway, May 9, Burnett was drilled for eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. As a Yankee, Burnett is 0-3 with a 12.68 ERA in five starts at Fenway.
The Yankees could put Phil Hughes in the playoff rotation if Burnett continues to struggle or Pettitte reinjures himself.
Girardi, Sox counterpart Terry Francona, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and Sox executives Sam Kennedy, Theo Epstein, and Larry Lucchino joined the umpires in assessing field conditions at about 9:25 p.m. Soon after, the tarp was drained and the Sox announced a 10 p.m. start time.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,’’ Girardi said, “but it wouldn’t have been our preference [to play two]. Can’t argue with Mother Nature.’’