Game 4 of ALCS between Yanks, Tigers postponed due to threat of rain

DETROIT -- For the second straight year, the weather has intruded on a New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers playoff game.

And for the second straight year, Yankees ace CC Sabathia is the player most affected by it.

Wednesday night's Game 4 of the AL Championship Series was delayed for about 1 hour, 10 minutes because of anticipated storms in the area, which had not arrived when the game was officially called off but did come later Wednesday night.

According to an announcement in the pressbox, the game was postponed "to preserve the integrity of an uninterrupted contest."

"They kept saying it was going to come and it never came," Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer said. "So, go figure."

The first pitch had been scheduled for 8:07 p.m., but shortly before then, the crowd was informed of the delay. A radar forecast for the Detroit area was eventually posted on the scoreboard video screen, as if to explain to fans why there was no baseball despite what was still rather pleasant weather at the ballpark.

The scheduled pitching matchup of Sabathia vs. Scherzer was pushed back to Thursday at 4:07 p.m.

"I think they made the right call," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "This is playoff baseball. You don't want your top guys going out there and throwing, like, two or three innings."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman agreed.

"I think it was an obvious decision based on what the radar was," he said. "Unfortunately, the radar showed it broke up right before it got to us. The heavy stuff wasn't going to break up. So it was going to be an unplayable situation. It is just not easy decision with dealing with weather."

The implications for the Yankees are potentially huge. Although they trail the best-of-seven series 3-0, if they were able to fight their way back to a tie, Sabathia would not be available to pitch in a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

Under the original schedule, there was a good chance Sabathia would pitch a potential Game 7 on three days' rest if the Yankees rallied in the series.

"This would cause a problem with that," Cashman said. "Regardless, we will find a way."

The scenario is similar to last year's AL Division Series, in which Game 1 at Yankee Stadium was suspended by rain after 1 1/2 innings and resumed the next day. That game washed out starts by Sabathia and Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

"A lot of people were pretty upset that Verlander didn't get to finish his start," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "So, I think people would be pretty upset if they didn't get to see Scherzer and Sabathia finish their starts as well. Major League Baseball is trying to protect not only the pitchers, but also play a clean game without having to stop and stuff like that."

This year, however, only the Yankees would be adversely affected since Verlander, who started and won Game 3 on Tuesday night, would be on full rest for a Game 7 start if the series went that far.

The Yankees, on the other hand, would either have to go to Phil Hughes, who left Game 3 in the fourth inning because of back stiffness, or someone else -- perhaps rookie David Phelps or Ivan Nova, who is not on the ALCS roster -- to start the game.

If the Yankees win Game 4 on Thursday, Game 5 would be played Friday -- originally slated as a travel day -- at Comerica Park, with the remaining two games, if necessary, played Saturday and Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, who was benched along with third baseman Alex Rodriguez by manager Joe Girardi on Wednesday before the game was called, said the unplanned night off might actually help him and his slumping team.

"It's definitely not going to hurt by any means," Granderson said. "We haven't played well to this point. Who knows? Change is always a good thing."

There is also a chance of rain in Detroit during at least parts of Thursday and Friday, but the forecast calls for mostly sunny and partly cloudy skies in the late afternoon and early evening Thursday that would allow the teams to play ball.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and The Associated Press was used in this report.