Rain-induced rest likely benefits both teams

Rain-induced rest likely benefits both teams

NEW YORK -- Both teams were primed to continue what has already been a highly entertaining American League Championship Series, but the Angels and Yankees will have to wait one more day. Mother Nature's mind was made up, and rain was set to pour on the tarp-covered Yankee Stadium deep into Saturday night.

So now that Game 6 will instead be Sunday night, how does this impact the Yankees and Angels? Better yet, whom does it favor?

The answer to that question seemed to differ depending on who was asked.

In truth, nobody shy of Nostradamus will know until the game -- or games -- actually takes place. The Yankees lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

"I would think [it's good] for us," said Angels closer Brian Fuentes. "They were going to have CC [Sabathia] going for them [in a Game 7] either way. I don't think it changes anything for them. I'd like to think it's more in our favor."

Perhaps that would have been different if Yankees manager Joe Girardi had used the rainout as an excuse to move his $161 million ace up to Game 6 since, after all, that is the night Sabathia would have pitched Game 7 if the series had stayed on the original schedule.

Instead, Girardi thinks his team's best chance to win this series is to keep Andy Pettitte on his regular turn and give Sabathia an extra day of rest if the series stretches to the limit.

"The extra day, we think, could physically help him," said Girardi. "He was on short [rest] the last time. He's been good on the extra day, too. So I don't really worry about him going on an extra day. We're going to stick with Andy."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia will also stick with Joe Saunders for Game 6. However, the best wrinkle the rainout creates for the Angels is that they now have the option of using ace John Lackey on full rest if they can win Game 6. Originally, Jered Weaver would have faced off against Sabathia in Game 7.

"We're getting too far ahead of ourselves," said Lackey. "We've got to win [Game 6]."

Along those lines, Scioscia didn't even definitively commit to Lackey for a Game 7. He first wants to make sure he doesn't need the big righty out of the bullpen Sunday, when all hands will be on deck.

POSTSEASON POSTPONEMENTS
Since Wild Card era began in 1995
Year Game Matchup
1996 ALCS, Gm. 1 BAL at NYY
WS, Gm. 1 ATL at NYY
2003 ALCS, Gm. 4 NYY at BOS
2004 ALCS, Gm. 3 NYY at BOS
2005 ALCS, Gm. 4 LAA at NYY
2006 ALDS, Gm. 2 DET at NYY
NLCS, Gm. 1 STL at NYM
NLCS, Gm. 5 NYM at STL
2008 WS, Gm. 5* TB at PHI
2009 NLDS, Gm. 3 PHI at COL
2009 ALCS, Gm. 6 LAA at NYY
*- Rain forced the suspension of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The game was completed two days later.

"John Lackey is -- he's still in play [Sunday]," said Scioscia. "We'll get through Game 6. There's no sense talking about a Game 7. We'll have some more options and we'll obviously know better after tomorrow's game."

But if the Angels can win with Saunders -- while perhaps using Weaver out of the bullpen in Game 6 -- they suddenly have a better chance of neutralizing Sabathia and the Yankees in a winner-take-all contest if Lackey is the man on the mound.

While the fans and media will dissect such matters all day long, the teams at least say they keep a more tunnel-vision approach.

"You worry about Game 6 for us," said Girardi. "Our focus is completely on Game 6. Does it give one team an advantage or not? I don't know. Maybe the extra day helps us more. I'm not really sure. I'm sure there will be a lot written about it, depending on what happens tomorrow night. But I don't know."

"Actually, I think [the rainout is] to both teams' advantage," said Saunders. "Some guys felt a little tired down the stretch -- position players and pitchers. I think this is good for both teams. You can wake up when you want tomorrow and come out and play a game. It's a beautiful thing."

The Angels -- who were within seven outs of their season ending in Thursday's Game 5, only to answer a stirring Yankees comeback with one of their own -- clearly are amped just to still be in this series.

"I can only tell you guys in our clubhouse are ready to play," Scioscia said. "I'm sure it's the same way in the other clubhouse. And again, as we talked about a little bit before, momentum is nice after you win a good game. But you've got to come back and rebuild it pitch by pitch. That's what we're going to have to do tomorrow."

And they'll get to do it under what should be dry skies. As damp as it was Saturday, the Yankees were still hoping to play and punch that ticket to their first World Series appearance in six years.

AL Championship Series
Gm. 1 NYY 4, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 4, LAA 3 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 LAA 5, NYY 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NY 10, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 LAA 7, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 5, LAA 2 Wrap Video

"We have to wait. There's nothing that we can do," said Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. "I was ready to play today. Well, the game is canceled, so we have to wait for tomorrow. It's as simple as that. I was ready to play today. I will be ready to play tomorrow. Put it that way."

For all the talk about the surge in momentum for the Angels, who have won two of the past three games, Rivera provided a brief reminder.

"We're still up," Rivera said. "It's 3-2. It's not like we're down. We're up. We have to win one more game, how's that?"

"Momentum is as good as the way you play that day," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "You can get your butt kicked, and the next day you come back and win the game. That's the way it is in the postseason. We have days off and you play that game the day you play."

Of the 28 teams who have trailed an LCS 3-2 -- dating back to when the best-of-seven format began in 1985 -- nine have come back to win. The Angels will try to become the fifth team to score an LCS victory by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road.

The Yankees are looking forward to the opportunity to halt any chance the Angels have of doing so, which made it a little annoying that quest was pushed back 24 hours.

"It's kind of like when you're standing at the pool when it's really hot outside," said Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher. "When you get in the pool, it kind of shocks you a little bit. That's kind of how it is right now. We all wanted to play -- we're ready to play. Sometimes, rain happens. We don't have a roof. We'll be back here tomorrow ready to go and it's going to be a good one."

And that's something that probably nobody who has watched this series will dispute.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.