A year after the Tigers and Yankees lost their aces after an inning and a half in the opener of the AL Division Series, they never got CC Sabathia or Max Scherzer onto a mound Wednesday night for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. With a storm system chugging its way north and east from Ohio toward Detroit, Major League Baseball delayed the start time for just more than an hour in an effort to wait out the rain.
Once it became clear the system wouldn't pass through until the wee hours, MLB postponed the game until Thursday afternoon. Game 4 will start on TBS at 4 p.m. ET, which had been the scheduled start time for a potential Game 5. If the Yankees win Thursday, Game 5 will take place Friday at Comerica Park at a time to be determined.
Tickets for Game 4, labeled as "ALCS Home Game #2," will now be honored Thursday. Game 5, labeled "ALCS Home Game #3," are good only for a potential Game 5 on Friday.
Wednesday's game was postponed at 9:15 p.m., just as a light rain was starting to fall at Comerica Park. Major League Baseball said the decision was made "in an effort to preserve the integrity of an uninterrupted full nine-inning game."
In other words, MLB wanted to avoid what happened last year, when the Tigers-Yankees opening matchup became a next-day battle of the bullpens after rain forced a suspension of Game 1 at Yankee Stadium and washed out starts by Justin Verlander and Sabathia.
"These guys don't want to start the game and then have to stop the game in the third inning, something like that, and an hour-and-a-half rain delay and then they can't finish the game," catcher Alex Avila said. "It kind of screws a lot of things up [if it happens], and obviously people are coming to see those guys pitch as well. They're trying to save a lot of things."
The postponement means the Yankees will have to beat the Tigers four times in four days if they're going to pull off the comeback and advance to the World Series. They'll also have to do it with four different starters, rather than having Sabathia available on short rest for a potential Game 7 opposite Verlander.
Of course, if the Tigers go to Game 7 now, after a 3-0 series lead, it likely means bigger problems than who pitches for the Yankees.
Other than an extra day of rest for Scherzer, the rainout has no impact on the Tigers' four-man rotation.
"I slept good last night. I'll sleep good tonight," Scherzer said. "Same deal. Nothing changes."
The only throws Scherzer made Wednesday night were in a light game of catch once the rainout was announced. The only reason he did it was that he doesn't like to go without throwing on the day before he pitches in a game.
Scherzer was ready to go, he said, but they never got the call that the game was anywhere near starting.
The one difference on Detroit's side will be the bullpen, where Phil Coke will likely be available. He would not have been available Wednesday night, manager Jim Leyland said beforehand, after pitching in each of the first three games of the series.
"I was available in my mind, anyway," Coke said, jokingly.
On the flip side, the Yankees' bullpen has a day to recuperate after covering five innings Tuesday night in Game 3. But then, if the Yankees have to cover major innings in a game Sabathia starts, it likely means trouble.