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Tarp mishap helps Yankees in rain-delayed victory over Rangers

Members of the grounds crew struggle with the

Members of the grounds crew struggle with the tarp during a fifth-inning rain delay between the Yankees and the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The rains came to the Bronx hard and heavy at 8:46 p.m. Wednesday night, quickly necessitating a call for the tarp.

But a process that usually takes a couple of minutes at the most took 13, causing the infield dirt to soon resemble what comes down a mudslide.

An announced restart time of 10:05 came and went and the Yankees eventually were awarded a 2-1, rain-shortened victory over the Rangers, who no doubt felt the Stadium grounds crew deserved an assist.

"Those guys have been doing that for a long time and I don't think it was intentional, but when you roll out the tarp, usually it makes it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham's crew. "That one didn't make it."

Meanwhile the Yankees, on the short end of a 3-1 rain-shortened five-inning loss in Baltimore July 13, believe Mother Nature evened the score.

"We were kind of owed this one after what happened in Baltimore," said Brett Gardner, whose homer off Yu Darvish (9-6) in the third snapped a 1-1 tie. "It's good. We'll take a win any way we can get it."

Said Joe Girardi: "The grounds crew physically did everything they could. Mother Nature took over."

With one out in the bottom of the fifth and Francisco Cervelli on second, the skies opened and crew chief Dale Scott called for the tarp.

The grounds crew unrolled the tarp, but the saturating rain slowed their progress and they reversed course to take another run at it.

But that only allowed the rain to further leaden the tarp -- tarps can weigh up to 1,500 pounds dry -- and make it virtually immovable. It wasn't until extra personnel, which included some members of stadium security and even a ball boy or two, chipped in that the tarp was properly pulled over the field. At that point, it was pure muck.

About a half-hour later, the tarp was pulled off the soupy mess, and the process of getting the field playable began, meaning sacks upon sacks of drying agent was applied.

At 9:50 came the announcement the game would restart at 10:05, but shortly after that time, both managers walked the infield and huddled with the umpires. Neither Girardi nor Washington felt the field was playable.

More rain came at 10:15 and the tarp was put back on, without incident, at 10:28. The game was officially called at 10:35 after Scott was in touch with the commissioner's office.

"The surface looked great, underneath, though, it was just squishy," Scott told a pool reporter. "It was too soft for turns and baselines. We tried, couldn't do it . . . So that was our decision."

Washington said he spoke to his GM, Jon Daniels, about protesting the game, but there was nothing in the rules specifically covering a tarp mishap.

"The major complaint was because of them not being able to get the tarp on the field, this game shouldn't have come to us losing it," Washington said. "It should've been suspended."

David Phelps (5-4) picked up the victory, allowing one run, five hits and no walks with three strikeouts in five innings.

"Mother Nature," Phelps said, "was on our side."

With Laura Albanese

New York Sports