Tigers, Yanks play coldest game at Comerica

Teams take field with first-pitch temperature of 31 degrees

Tigers, Yanks play coldest game at Comerica

DETROIT -- The ice some Tigers players encountered on highways heading into Comerica Park on Saturday morning probably wasn't a good sign.

The snowflakes that fell as first pitch approached wasn't good, either.

"It's not fun," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said before Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Yankees. "It's a lot of incentive to hit the barrel of the bat, because if you hit it on the label or on the end, your fingers are numb for the next two innings."

The Yankees did quite a bit of that, while CC Sabathia ensured the Tigers didn't. In the end, the Tigers didn't want to use the weather conditions -- including a Comerica Park record-cold 31-degree temperature reading at first pitch -- as a reason for their demise.

After encountering weather questions for a second consecutive day, Ian Kinsler was actually slightly heated.

"You guys talk about weather all the time," he said. "There's really no point in talking about weather. Both teams have to play in it. It's not just the Tigers having to play in cold weather. It's part of the game."

Saturday marked the first time in Comerica Park history that a game began in sub-freezing temperatures. The previous coldest game in the park's 17-year history also was a Tigers-Yankees contest. That was last April 23, with a temperature of 33 degrees when Anibal Sanchez threw his first pitch.

"It's tougher for the pitchers and the outfielders," Ausmus said. "It's colder out there, because you've got a little wind out in the outfield, so it can get a little cold, especially when the team batting goes through a little stretch. That's when you start to get cold, you start to shiver a little bit."

Ausmus said the cold likely left Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey struggling to command his splitter, but Pelfrey downplayed it. Still, the combination of long innings from Pelfrey and quick work from Sabathia arguably exacerbated the cold's impact on the Tigers.

Pelfrey threw 18 pitches in the first, Sabathia 14. When Pelfrey followed with a 21-pitch second, Sabathia needed just seven pitches to retire the Tigers in order in the bottom half. Though Pelfrey recovered in the third, he couldn't get out of a 24-pitch fourth.

"That's kind of how you would design it if you could if you're trying to win baseball games," Ausmus said. "It has a little bit more of an effect when it's cold out, I think."

The long fourth might well have impacted Sabathia, who walked the bases loaded ahead of a two-run single in a 33-pitch bottom half.

"I think that sometimes that has something to do with it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I always worry when you score a lot of runs. The first couple of hitters, guys getting back into the groove, but we figured it out."

Part of the momentum to play Saturday might have been the forecast for Sunday night's series finale. Though temperatures are expected to rise, there's a chance of rain most of the evening.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.