NEW YORK (AP) — A wet field gave the New York Yankees one weird win.
Brett Gardner hit a tiebreaking homer off All-Star ace Yu Darvish, and New York beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 Wednesday night in a rain-shortened game called in the fifth inning under bizarre circumstances.
Once the rain stopped, the grounds crew did its best to dry out the field. But both managers expressed concern about players getting hurt on the soft basepaths, and the game was called after an unusual delay that lasted 1 hour, 49 minutes.
"The field was just not playable," umpire crew chief Dale Scott told a pool reporter. During the delay, the last-place Rangers reached an agreement to trade closer Joakim Soria to Detroit for minor league pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel.
David Phelps (5-4) pitched out of a jam just before the storm, and Francisco Cervelli doubled twice to help the Yankees win for the fifth time in six games on a 10-game homestand following the All-Star break.
Chase Headley had a double in his first start for New York after he was acquired in Tuesday's trade with San Diego. Phelps gave up five hits in his first career complete game. After a one-out triple by Leonys Martin in the fifth, the right-hander retired Chris Gimenez on a foul popup and struck out Rougned Odor.
Phelps and Cervelli pumped their fists as they headed toward the dugout — perhaps knowing how important that last out might be, making the game official with heavy rain in the forecast. Play was halted with one out in the bottom of the fifth, and the grounds crew struggled mightily to pull the tarp through the mud as a heavy downpour soaked the field. It appeared the teams were ready to resume at one point, but managers Joe Girardi and Ron Washington were worried about more injuries to their banged-up teams.
"Neither one of us can afford to lose another player on the DL because of conditions players shouldn't be on," Girardi said. After much discussion with the umpires and head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham, a light rain returned and the tarp was put back on the field. Less than 10 minutes later, the game was stopped for good — giving the Yankees the victory.
"What made me complain was because of them not being able to get the tarp on the field," Washington said, adding he had never seen a similar situation in his career. "This game shouldn't come to us losing it. It should have been suspended."
But there was no avenue for a protest, Washington acknowledged. New York lost a rain-shortened game to the Orioles on July 13, the last day before the All-Star break. "We lost in Baltimore because of Mother Nature. We won tonight because of Mother Nature. That just happens in our game," Girardi said.
Darvish (9-6) allowed four hits and threw 67 pitches in his second complete game of the year. He struck out five and walked none. When the rain started, it took 13 minutes and three tries for the grounds crew to drag the soaked tarp over a drenched infield. Bat boys, clubhouse attendants and security guards in clear ponchos rushed out to help. One stumbled and briefly got trapped underneath. It took more than 30 men to finally finish the job, bringing a roar from the crowd.
Only 15 minutes later, the rain had stopped and workers removed the tarp. But the playing surface was so wet, it took about 50 minutes to dry and prepare the field. A public-address announcement informed fans the game was scheduled to resume at approximately 10:05 p.m. But as Darvish headed back to the mound and other players warmed up, Girardi stalked around near first base testing the surface.
He motioned for an audience, and the huddle that ensued included both managers, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Cunningham, who appeared to be doing much of the talking. The umpires and grounds crew headed back underneath the stands, and Texas players milled around in front of their dugout for about 20 minutes waiting for word. Darvish flipped a ball, and even pawed at the dirt near third base.
When the rain started falling again around 10:25 p.m., the tarp was placed back over the infield. And that was it. Cervelli hit a leadoff double in the third and scored on Darvish's second career balk. Gardner followed with his 10th home run, the first time he's reached double digits in seven major league seasons.
"That's amazing. He's been doing that for us the whole year," Cervelli said. Texas scored in the third on Odor's double-play grounder after consecutive singles by Martin and Chris Gimenez. NOTES: Rangers RF Alex Rios returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. ... Washington said there are still "ghosts" at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. "I think they just came across the street," he said. ... RHP Michael Pineda (right shoulder muscle) is scheduled to throw 30 pitches over two innings in a simulated game Thursday. ... There won't be any update on RHP Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) for another two weeks, Girardi said. New York is hoping Tanaka can avoid Tommy John surgery and return in September. ... CC Sabathia had his season-ending knee surgery.