Getting the tarp on the field tonight was a near total failure. The rain came suddenly, it was a downpour within seconds, the wind was blowing, and the grounds crew literally couldn’t get the tarp out of left field. I wasn’t even paying much attention to them at first, so I’m not entirely sure what started the whole mess, but it was very quickly obvious that the tarp was covered with too much rain to drag onto the infield. It took a full 14 minutes — with various other stadium workers helping — to finally get the infield covered.
And it was all over at that point.
The rain stopped and there was a lengthy, rather impressive effort to get the field playable again. Just looking at it, the infield seemed perfectly fine. But that water didn’t disappear beneath all of that fresh dirt.
“Even if there was no rain, it’s not going to just magically going to dry up,” crew chief Dale Scott said. “It wasn’t the surface, it was underneath. From what you saw, not getting that tarp on, to what it looked like once they fixed it up, it looked beautiful. But frankly, the surface looked great, underneath though it was just squishy. And it was too soft for turns and baselines.”
Although the Yankees clearly had the most to gain from a called game, Scott said that both managers agreed that the surface was far too dangerous. Joe Girardi said that Ron Washington called the infield, “a hamstring just waiting to be pulled.”
And these two teams know a thing or two about pulled hamstrings this year.
“We made a joke that you could put the two teams together with their DL and you could form a pretty good team,” Girardi said. “Neither one of us can really afford anyone else to go on the DL because of conditions that players shouldn’t be on.”
So the Yankees got a win against one of the best pitchers in baseball. Call it karma for what happened just before the break.
“We kind of were owed this one after what happened in Baltimore, I think,” Brett Gardner said. “It’s good. We’ll take a win any way we get can get it.”
• Look back at the last out of the fifth inning, when David Phelps came off the mound screaming and pumping his fist. That strikeout stranded the tying run at third base. Turns out to be the biggest out of the night. “I knew I had a base open,” Phelps said. “Cervy kind of told me, ‘Let’s make him swing at some stuff.’ I was able to make a couple of pitches, and he swung at a ball out of the zone. It’s a big moment. We were up 2-1 against Darvish, who doesn’t give up two runs very often. It was just one of those times when you really want to keep the lead for them.”
• Phelps is credited with a complete game for going five innings with one run on five hits, no walks and three strikeouts. That’s the first complete game of his career. Kind of a cheap way to get it, but he went head-to-head with Darvish and got a win. That’s something. Phelps is now unbeaten in his past eight starts going 4-0 with a 2.96 ERA. He has a 2.51 ERA in his past eight starts at Yankee Stadium.
• What’s made Phelps so consistent? Basically, he said being consistent starts with consistency. “It’s nice being on every five days,” he said. “I’ve been able to get on a routine and just getting comfortable with going out there every fifth day. It’s what I’ve done my whole career being a starter, and it’s nice being able to get back into that role.”
• Did Phelps pitch that fifth inning as if it were the ninth, knowing the rain was on its way? “I had no idea there was weather coming in,” he said. “When I got done, I heard one of our bat boys tell one of our coaches that they said they were calling for rain in five or 10 minutes. I looked at the forecast before the game, it said 40 to 50 percent, so I didn’t think we were seeing anything like that.”
• Phelps was not going back to the mound, by the way. Darvish was going, despite the delay of one hour and 49 minutes. Crazy. If Darvish hadn’t actually gone to the mound to throw some warm-up pitches, I wouldn’t have believed he was actually planning to stay in the game.
• Gardner’s game-winning home run was his 100th hit of the season. His 10 homers this season are a career-high, and the Yankees are now 26-7 in games when Gardner goes deep in his career. “Just being a little more aggressive,” Gardner said. “Trying to continue to work on my swing with K-Long, being more aggressive at the plate, and take my A swing.”
• Two doubles for Francisco Cervelli. He’s hit safely in seven of his last eight starts, batting .379 in those games. “I just try to see the ball and hit it,” Cervelli said. “That’s it. I’m not worried about results because, like you said, I don’t have that many games. I cannot think too much. I just go there and try to hit the ball.”
• Another Yankees hit for Chase Headley who’s actually hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games.
• No hit for Brian McCann, who went 0-for-2 and snapped his streak of reaching base safely in 17 games.
• Derek Jeter played in his 1,600th Yankees victory. According to Elias, Jeter has the highest personal winning percentage (.595) among active players who have played at least 1,000 games.
• No doubt that this rain out really helped the Yankees depleted bullpen. One night after using every single reliever, the Yankees didn’t have to use a single one tonight. Even so, I wonder if they’ll keep Chris Leroux another day before bringing up another position player.
• Apparently Ron Washington said he did not believe the grounds crew’s tarp trouble was intentional. But, when asked if the idea crossed his mind, Washington said, “no comment.” Have to imagine the idea of an intentional tarp mistake at least crossed the mind of everyone watching this one, but I just can’t imagine it being the case. “The grounds crew did everything they could,” Girardi said. “They physically did everything they could and Mother Nature took over.”
• CC Sabathia’s surgery went as expected today. “I guess his surgery went well,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if we’ll see him. Obviously he’s not allowed to travel for a few days, so we’ll probably see him when we get back from the road trip.”
• Final word goes to Gardner about sneaking a win against a guy like Darvish: “He’s a guy who’s tough to get things going on, but we were able to get just enough of the game in before it started raining. The field was in pretty bad shape, so I’m glad we didn’t go back out there.”
Associated Press photos