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10/25/09 12:01 AM ET

Game 6 of ALCS postponed until today

First pitch set for 8:20 p.m. ET; Game 7 would be Monday

NEW YORK -- All of the promising signs of baseball at Yankee Stadium were on display late Saturday afternoon, as the turnstiles started spinning on time and the hundreds of lights ringing the white frieze began to burn brightly.

Mother Nature had other plans, and Game 6 of the American League Championship Series will have to wait another day. Heavy rains began soon after the gates opened, sending the Yankees and Angels searching for a drier place to spend the night.

Game 6 of the ALCS was rescheduled for tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET and will be televised by FOX. If the Angels force a Game 7, it would be played on Monday at 7:57 p.m.

Fans holding tickets for Saturday's postponed game -- marked "ALCS Home Game 3 at Yankee Stadium" -- must use them for the rescheduled game tonight, when the Yankee Stadium gates will open at 5 p.m.

Both Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that their teams will stick with the scheduled starting pitchers for today's Game 6, so Joe Saunders will face Andy Pettitte in a rescheduled matchup of left-handers.

Pettitte called it "the longest day ever" as he kept an eye on the ugly forecast while beginning to mentally prepare for his start, and he had nearly headed out to begin his physical preparations before the game was finally called at 6:05 p.m.

"I've been doing it so long, and you realize it's a rainout," Pettitte said. "You get ready to do it tomorrow. It's just frustrating from the standpoint that it's just such a long day when you're so ready and so anxious to get the game going."

With his Angels one loss from elimination -- trailing, 3-2, in the ALCS -- Saunders said that the rainout might have been a blessing in disguise for both clubhouses.

Since Wild Card era began in 1995
Year Game Matchup
1996 ALCS, Gm. 1 BAL at NYY
WS, Gm. 1 ATL at NYY
2003 ALCS, Gm. 4 NYY at BOS
2004 ALCS, Gm. 3 NYY at BOS
2005 ALCS, Gm. 4 LAA at NYY
2006 ALDS, Gm. 2 DET at NYY
NLCS, Gm. 1 STL at NYM
NLCS, Gm. 5 NYM at STL
2008 WS, Gm. 5* TB at PHI
2009 NLDS, Gm. 3 PHI at COL
2009 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.

"Actually, I think it's to both teams' advantage," Saunders said. "Some guys felt a little tired down the stretch -- position players and pitchers. I think this is good for both teams. You can wake up when you want tomorrow and come out and play a game. It's a beautiful thing."

And unlike on Saturday night, when the white tarpaulin spread across the infield accepted a natural power-washing, the weather powers that be have forecasted tonight as a much-improved setting for baseball in the Bronx.

Weather.com was forecasting clear skies with a zero percent chance of precipitation and temperatures around 55 degrees. The National Weather Service and AccuWeather.com also expected mostly clear conditions for toay's game.

"I know a lot of guys were really excited to play today, but the big man upstairs didn't think it was the right time for us to play," Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We'll get back after it tomorrow. No big deal."

Weather played a large role in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS, both won by the Yankees in cold and raw conditions that made it somewhat uncomfortable for players, who wore ear flaps on their caps and face masks.

But the Yankees opened the gates on time to fans for both contests, and the rain -- more prevalent in the late innings of the 13-inning Game 2 -- never actually made the field as unplayable as it was on Saturday, giving both clubs yet another off-day to soak up.

"You've got to deal with it," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We've had so many days off this entire postseason, with a short series, waiting around, travel days. You get used to it."

AL Championship Series
Gm. 1 NYY 4, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 4, LAA 3 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 LAA 5, NYY 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NY 10, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 LAA 7, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 5, LAA 2 Wrap Video

Well, sort of. The thwack of baseballs meeting bats in the indoor cages was audible when the Yankees opened their clubhouse to reporters shortly after 6 p.m., and Jerry Hairston Jr. said that some of his teammates were discussing the ability to stay sharp without regular games.

"Mark Teixeira just said in the cage he's got a new respect for utility players," Hairston said. "I just started laughing. I said, 'Why don't you give me part of that check you've got there?'

"But that's the life of a baseball player, too. You're going to have rainouts, but you can't have excuses. You've got to go out and play. We knew coming in that there was a possibility we might get rained out. We've just got to get ready for tomorrow night."

Both managers said that they were appreciative that Major League Baseball decided to postpone the game early, rather than forcing Pettitte and Saunders to warm up and perhaps burn them early while exposing the clubs -- and fans -- to a lengthy delay.

"The one thing is you don't want to stop and start," Girardi said. "I don't think any of us are exactly sure when the rain is going to get out of here or how late it's going to be, so I respect the decision that they made.

"I'm sure both clubs would have loved to have played. The weather is not permitting."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.