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Who will handle changes best in ALCS?
Who will handle changes best?
By Mike Bauman
NEW YORK -- Game 6 of the 2009 American League Championship Series will be played, weather permitting, today at 8:20 p.m. ET.
This should come as a big relief to baseball fans who watched helplessly as steady rains starting Friday night, and persisting through Saturday night, made this crucial game a victim instead of a sporting event. The postponement of Game 6 was made official at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday when it became apparent that between the previous rainfall and the expectation of heavier rain to come, conditions would not allow this game to be played as scheduled at Yankee Stadium.
The weather forecast for tonight is just fine for New York in October, and more to the point, just fine for baseball in New York in October.
Both managers are sticking with their scheduled Game 6 left-handers -- Andy Pettitte for the Yankees, Joe Saunders for the Angels.
Pettitte is tied for the all-time lead in postseason victories, but he had a 7.88 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Angels this year. Because of the rainout, CC Sabathia would be available to pitch on regular rest in Game 6, but manager Joe Girardi said, "We like the guy going tomorrow. CC has been great. But Andy will pitch tomorrow. ... We're going to stick with Andy."
Saunders has been exceptionally good over the past two months. In his last eight regular-season starts, he was 7-0 with a 2.62 ERA. In his Game 2 start against the Yankees, he gave up only two runs in seven innings.
The rainout could allow the Angels to bring back their ace, John Lackey, on short rest for a Game 7. But when Lackey was asked about that possibility, he responded, "We're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves, fellas. We have to win [Game 6] first."
Even before the rainout, it could have been argued that the October climate already had a significant impact on the series. When this ALCS has been played in the cold and damp, the New York Yankees are 2-0. When this series has been played under fair skies in pleasant temperatures, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are 2-1.
The Yankees would appear to have the built-in advantages in dealing with less-than-ideal meteorological conditions. But the conditions change for everybody. It's a long way from those calm, moderate California nights, to "Oh, no, the forecast is getting worse," when the temperature is falling, the wind chill is falling and the only thing that is rising is the price of a decent parka.
When this series resumes, the question will be whether the Angels' Game 5 victory changed the course of baseball history or just added a night or two in the Bronx to the autumn schedule.
Only 50 percent of the participants will be happy about the eventual outcome, but everyone will be happy to see this series resume and resume in reasonable conditions.
The mood was falling along with the rain as Saturday afternoon turned to Saturday night. The theme music for this one was "Rainin' in My Heart," by Slim Harpo. You always wonder: "What names did the other Harpo children have?" But this is not the time for that.
The only thing worse than a rained-out baseball game is a rained-out postseason baseball game. Especially when a series is down to crunch time, as the 2009 ALCS now is. The Angels staged a remarkable revival in Game 5. But the Yankees are only one victory away from the World Series. Game 6 beckons. And then, it doesn't.
Everyone on hand had the Yankees/Angels Postponement Blues, from their heads down to their shoes. Millions upon millions of people across the length and breadth of the North American continent wanted to see this baseball game played on this Saturday night. Now, with any luck, this baseball game will be played on tonight, starting at its scheduled time of 8:20 p.m.
But there was all this momentum and anticipation building toward this game on this Saturday night. And then, no game.
Since Wild Card era began in 1995
ALCS, Gm. 1
BAL at NYY
WS, Gm. 1
ATL at NYY
ALCS, Gm. 4
NYY at BOS
ALCS, Gm. 3
NYY at BOS
ALCS, Gm. 4
LAA at NYY
ALDS, Gm. 2
DET at NYY
NLCS, Gm. 1
STL at NYM
NLCS, Gm. 5
NYM at STL
WS, Gm. 5*
TB at PHI
NLDS, Gm. 3
PHI at COL
ALCS, Gm. 6
LAA at NYY
*- Rain forced the suspension of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The game was completed two days later.
"It [stinks] to have a rainout right now," said Angels center fielder Torii Hunter. "That's all I can tell you. We just want to play this game. That's all we want to do."
Everybody was looking for a reason for this game to be played as scheduled. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the game was postponed that the infielders could expect that any ground ball they fielded would have some water on it. But that was OK, Scioscia said, because the Angels had worked out on Friday morning at Angel Stadium with morning dew on the ground. The Halos had not planned on this moisture, but there it was, as close as they could come to practice for playing in the rain in Southern California.
But tonight, the outlook is for baseball with no more rain rationalizations needed. The jury is still out on which team will prevail here, but this much is clear:
The weather is more complex in New York than it is in Anaheim. And the situation with this series isn't getting any simpler, either. We will see shortly which club can best roll with the changes.
Have we mentioned that today's forecast is really, really good? There will be sunshine and moderate temperatures during the day, and the overnight forecast includes a zero percent chance of precipitation. Hey, Ernie, let's play two! All right, two wouldn't be needed if the Yankees win Game 6, but you'd like to see these two teams playing some baseball in the sunshine. As a matter of fact, right now, you'd like to see these two teams playing some baseball, period.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.