MLB playoffs 2011: Game 2 of ALCS rained out

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the fielding positions of Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young. The article also incorrectly said that Young would miss the entire ALCS because of a left oblique strain. Many assumed he would not play in the series when he was left off the roster for the first game. He returned to the roster Oct. 10 and played that day despite the injury. This version has been updated.


Rangers Ballpark is reflected in a rain puddle after Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers was postponed due to weather. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/REUTERS)
October 9, 2011

Nolan Ryan — president of the Texas Rangers, Hall of Famer, Aleve pitchman, Baseball’s Toughest Guy — added one more title to his ledger Sunday afternoon: unofficial meteorologist of the American League Championship Series.

Ryan found himself standing behind a lectern, explaining why Major League Baseball had postponed Game 2 of the ALCS between his Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, scheduled for Sunday night, until Monday at 4:19 p.m. He used phrases like “heat buildup,” “pop-up showers” and “disturbance out in West Texas.” He sounded, even with his Texas drawl, like a weatherman.

“You know, if this job doesn’t work out,” Ryan said, “maybe they could use somebody.”

The Rangers and MLB delayed the game not because of rain, but because of the threat of rain and to ensure that Game 2 would not meet the same soggy fate as Game 1, a 3-2 Rangers victory. Saturday night, two delays totaling 110 minutes caused Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson, each team’s ace, to both leave before the fifth inning.

Although there was no rain when the announcement came — a grounds-crew member actually watered the grass around 3:45 p.m. Central time — the teams and the league did not want to risk another weather-marred playoff game. In addition to Game 1, the Tigers also had to play one inning of their first AL Division Series game in New York before rain halted and postponed the remainder of that game.

“We didn’t want to experience what we did last night,” Ryan said. “It appears that it’s going to be duplication of what we saw last night. The one thing we’re concerned about is the integrity of the game and not put either team in a situation where the elements could affect the outcome of the game.”

Neither team planned to alter their pitching rotation, with Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer and Texas lefty Derek Holland still scheduled to start Game 2. Scherzer threw 32 pitches in 11 / 3 innings of relief Thursday night in New York in Game 5 of the ALDS, and the rain will provide him another day of rest.

Verlander will not return earlier than scheduled despite only throwing four innings because of rain Saturday. The Tigers still plan to start him in Game 5, so long as they win one game — a prospect made grimmer because of every other shift that happened Sunday.

The bombshell: Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez will miss the remainder of the postseason with an ankle injury, Manager Jim Leyland said. Ordonez left Sunday’s game after he aggravated the chronic ailment, which seemed at the time like a strategic defensive substitution. Instead, Ordonez, the Tigers’ No. 5 hitter Saturday night, is done.

The Tigers already played Game 1 of the ALDS without left fielder and No. 3 hitter Delmon Young, who suffered a left oblique strain in Game 5 of the ALDS and might miss more games. Both right-handed bats would have been key against a Texas rotation with three left-handed starters, including Holland. The exact wrong hitters will be out against the exact wrong team.

The Tigers had not decided how they would replace Ordonez on the roster, and they possess no obvious solution. They will have to rely more on Don Kelly, Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn, who had two hits and a walk in Game 1. Already down 1-0 in the series and facing a team with more talent on paper, the Tigers became even larger underdogs. Leyland saw the injuries as a chance for the Tigers to reflect the city from which they come.

“I see this as a great opportunity for us,” Leyland said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show how tough we are. And we’re tough. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for us. We’ll make do. We’ll come out tomorrow ready to play.”

For the Rangers, Sunday’s developments brought only one change, and it benefited them. Reliever Alexi Ogando, who struck out three while allowing no hits and a walk in two dominant innings in Game 1, would have had to sit out Game 2. Instead, the Rangers will have their most versatile and perhaps best middle reliever available Monday.

The teams at least know they do not have to contend with Mother Nature. The rain Saturday night came after a four-month drought in the area, and more promised to fall. The Rangers retain their own meteorological service, and MLB uses the National Forecasting Service. Commissioner Bud Selig collected information from both services, consulted both teams and made the ultimate decision.

And so the Rangers and Tigers waited, the Tigers absorbing more bad news and more bad weather. They have lost two-thirds of their outfield, but they refused to outwardly let that ruin their mood. They are still playing, which this time of year matters most.

“We’re in the American League Championship Series,” Raburn said. “I don’t know how sorry we can actually feel.”

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