10/17/12 9:48 PM ET
Rainout doesn't do reeling Yankees any favors
If ALCS were to go seven games, CC would not be available to start
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
The rainout of Game 4 at Comerica Park on Wednesday night was not quite an equal-opportunity meteorological event. There is a scenario in which this event hurts the Yankees much worse than the Detroit Tigers.
To date, this American League Championship Series has not been a matter of luck. Depending on your point of view, it has been dominated by the Tigers' pitching or the Yankees' failure to hit. Either way Detroit is up, 3-0.
Game 4 is now scheduled to be played Thursday, with the TBS telecast beginning at 4 p.m. ET. CC Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees against Max Scherzer and the Tigers. And therein lies a potential problem for the Yankees, even if everything else goes the way they hope.
The most positive scenario available for the Yankees revolves around them continuing to get strong pitching performances. This is not an unrealistic expectation, given that their next three starters would be Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda.
What might be unrealistic is expecting the Yankees to find enough offense to win three straight games, no matter how good their pitching is. The Yankees have pitched exceedingly well throughout this postseason, but find themselves in this 0-3 ALCS hole, due to a dearth of run production. They have scored 21 runs over eight postseason games, and only five in this series.
Now, if all of New York's hopes and dreams were fulfilled and the club found a way to win Games 4, 5 and 6, the series would arrive at Game 7 and what would the Yankees do? This is where the rainout would make a difference. The difference, admittedly, is in a hypothetical future, but still.
If the Yankees won the next three games, it would be difficult for them to bring back Sabathia on two days' rest. With the Game 3 postponement, the travel day would be lost and the Game 7 would be Sunday. Had Game 3 been played Wednesday, Sabathia could have pitched in Game 7 on three days' rest. He's done that before, at times with success. But the two days' rest is no longer a viable option. We are way past the ironman stage for starting pitchers.
Even beyond Sabathia's status, there is doubt about just who the Yankees would start in the theoretical seventh game. Phil Hughes would be in turn, but he had to depart Game 3 in the fourth inning with tightness in his lower back.
On the other side of the argument, Detroit's ace of aces, Justin Verlander, winner of Game 3, would be available to pitch in Game 7 on regular rest. The Tigers might otherwise be in complete letdown mode if they were to lose the next three games of this series. But with Verlander ready, willing and able to pitch the final game, they couldn't be too deflated.
So the rain did not fall with complete equality on the Yankees and the Tigers on Wednesday night. But at this point, the Yankees would probably trade some uncertainty for the mere chance to play in a Game 7. Their immediate problem, beyond rainfall in southeastern Michigan, will be generating enough offense to get from here to there.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.