The New York Yankees had their division-clinching party delayed a bit tonight when their game with the Baltimore Orioles was rained out. With their magic number down to two, the Yankees can wrap up their third American League East championship in four years on Thursday when they're scheduled to play a day-night doubleheader against the Orioles.
Tickets for tonight's postponed game can be used for the opening game at 1:05 p.m. Roger Clemens will pitch for the Yankees against Orioles ace Mike Mussina. The regularly scheduled contest will be played at 7:05 p.m. with El Duque Hernandez pitching against Orioles rookie Matt Riley.
Umpire Durwood Merrill postponed tonight's game after waiting just 30 minutes, and he made the call even though it hadn't begun to rain. Several Yankees complained to Merrill about the decision, but afterward, Manager Joe Torre said he understood.
"With the technology they have, they said it would start raining within the hour and not stop," Torre said. "If that's the case, they made the right decision. I didn't want Roger warming up and then stopping. But when they called the game, it wasn't raining. I kind of took exception to that."
Said Orioles Manager Ray Miller: "Durwood said we had only a 50-minute window. He called it and didn't give us any choice."
Merrill said he made the decision after consulting with weather forecasters and several Orioles officials.
"They told me we had a 50-minute window and then it would start raining and not stop," he said. "What can you do in 50 minutes? I didn't want the pitchers to get out there and then have to stop. I know it looks tough when you call a game and it's not raining. I'm just going on the information I've been given. We didn't keep the people here all night. We'll come back tomorrow and both pitchers will be fresh."