ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers were delayed by rain in the opener of a playoff series again – twice.
Game 1 of the AL championship series between the Tigers and Texas Rangers was stopped by rain for 41 minutes in the top of the fifth inning on Saturday night. Then, 13 minutes after play resumed, umpires halted the game for the second time.
Detroit scored twice after the resumption to close to 3-2, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth when play was halted again.
Verlander had thrown one inning and 25 pitches in the division series opener at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30 when that game was suspended. Under a rules change adopted two years ago, postseason games are suspended when called instead of being cut short or wiped out. Verlander came back and started Game 3, which he won, and threw 82 pitches against the Rangers before the delay.
After the fourth inning at Rangers Ballpark, the groundskeeper went out and spoke with plate umpire Tim Welke, certainly about the weather.
A few minutes later, after Ramon Santiago led off the fifth with a double and while Brandon Inge was batting with a 1-0 count against C.J. Wilson, the intensity of the rain picked up. Welke then stopped the game for the first time, with Texas up 3-0, and had the field covered.
On the first pitch after play resumed, Brandon Inge grounded out. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI double and eventually scored on a wild pitch while Wilson walked three batters to load the bases. Magglio Ordonez had just drawn his walk when heavy rain started falling again, and play was stopped.
These were the first rain delays at Rangers Ballpark since May 24. This season was played during one of the hottest and driest summers ever in North Texas, with 100-degree days the norm.
Wilson already had six strikeouts and benefited from two inning-ending double plays. He had thrown 72 pitches before the first break, and 24 more before the second stoppage.
Texas took a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI triple by David Murphy before he scored on Ian Kinsler’s single.
Nelson Cruz homered leading off the fourth, ending an 0-for-10 postseason slump. It was his seventh postseason homer, a Rangers record and one more than Juan Gonzalez had.
Verlander had five strikeouts and two walks while throwing 82 pitches over the first four innings. Joaquin Benoit was tossing balls in the bullpen, instead of Verlander, when play resumed in the top of the fifth.
Both of Verlander’s walks came in the first, when he also struck out Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre to avoid giving up a run even after center fielder Jackson made an error when a flyball by Elvis Andrus hit off the heel of his glove.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)