Clear 34° Good Afternoon
Clear 34° Good Afternoon

Rain minimizes use of ace Verlander

As tough as it may have been to watch the Tigers' misplays in the top of the first, that was nothing compared to what Justin Verlander saw as soon as he left the field and looked at the weather radar picture in the clubhouse. He immediately said, "Uh-oh.''

"Or words to that effect," he said after Game 1 of the American League Division Series was suspended by rain in the bottom of the second.

It left a mess for everyone on both sides, but a special disappointment for starting pitchers, who don't get to pick up where they left off. Verlander, the likely American League Cy Young Award winner and possible Most Valuable Player, said he was hoping to go out there even after sitting around for an hour.

During the regular season, a starting pitcher usually does not go out after more than 60 minutes. Verlander was asked, nearly two hours after he last pitched, when he could have been ready. "Now," he said. "I'll go out there right now."

The Tigers' ace will pitch Game 3 in Detroit Monday. Doug Fister, the originally scheduled Game 2 starter, will pick up Game 1 tied at 1 in the bottom of the second Saturday night. Max Scherzer will pitch Game 2 Sunday afternoon.

Verlander did his best to be philosophical: "I had a nice bullpen session in front of half of America tonight."

But the forecast might not be any more promising for the Tigers than that splotchy radar screen. The point is, Verlander likely will pitch only once in this series. He did say he will tell manager Jim Leyland he will be ready earlier -- for a possible Game 5 Thursday on two days' rest -- but he knows that is not very realistic.

"We've been a resilient team all year. We're matched up very well for this. We've got four guys chomping at the bit, ready to go," Verlander said.

Leyland, asked about the disappointment of probably having his ace only once in the best-of-five series, said, "I don't worry about stuff like that. I think when the manager makes a big deal about something like that, it affects the players. It is what it is. Good Lord, it rained. So what. It's all about three. Win three, lose three. That's what this is all about. The magic number is three for both teams. There's no sense getting excited."

The Tigers did not get off to a great start in the field. Derek Jeter reached on a strikeout that wasn't handled, Yankees runners advanced when first baseman Miguel Cabrera chose to touch first rather than try for a double play (he said he was concerned about hitting the runner with his throw) and the Yankees scored without a hit when third baseman Brandon Inge threw to first on a grounder rather than trying to retire Jeter at the plate.

On top of that, the Tigers will have a predominantly righthanded-hitting lineup against righthanded starter Ivan Nova. "Obviously, I'm not going to start pulling guys out," Leyland said.

No big deal. Said Cabrera: "This is the playoffs. If we have to stay in New York for a week, we'll stay."

Meanwhile, Verlander was trying to see the silver lining. "Hopefully, we'll come out tomorrow,'' he said, "and Doug will finish the no-hitter."

New York Sports