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05/26/10 12:50 AM ET
Rain suspends Yankees-Twins tilt
Tied in sixth inning, ballgame to resume on Wednesday
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Having already endured their first rainout at Target Field, on May 7 against the Orioles, the Twins witnessed their new ballpark's first suspended game on Tuesday night. The opener of a three-game series between the Yankees and Twins at Target Field was suspended due to rain with the scored tied 0-0 after five innings, and it will resume -- where it left off, at the start of the sixth inning -- on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. CT. According to Major League Baseball rules, rain checks are not available for any regulation or suspended game if five innings have been completed. So only fans with tickets for Wednesday's regularly scheduled contest will be admitted, and gates will open at 3 p.m. The regularly scheduled contest will begin at either 6:10 p.m. or a half-hour after the conclusion of the suspended game. "You can't do anything about it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the suspended game. "Mother Nature decided to water her plants." A steady stream of rain began falling in the second inning of Tuesday's game, but the rain intensified in the fourth and fifth. With conditions growing worse on the field, the contest was delayed at 8:32 p.m. The delay lasted one hour and 23 minutes before the game was officially suspended. "The mound was starting to get sloppy," Gardenhire said. "The field was handling it very well, but home plate and the mound looked like they were starting to get a little muddy. The field handles the water really good, but it was coming down pretty heavy -- you could see that. It wasn't going to lighten up. It just kept blowing up right over the top and kept getting stronger and stronger." It was the first rain delay at an outdoor Twins home game since a contest against the Rangers on Sept. 26, 1981. That delay lasted 48 minutes in front of 4,959 fans. The last delay of any kind during a Twins home game came during a contest against the Yankees on Aug. 29, 1992, when four of lighting banks went out at the Metrodome, delaying play for 29 minutes. As the rain began to pour down on Tuesday, many fans headed to the covered concourses seeking shelter. But there were also many who donned parkas and rain gear and continued to sit out in the elements to enjoy a part of baseball that had been missing in Minnesota for the past 28 years under the Metrodome's Teflon roof. With flashes of lightning brightening the sky in the distance and rain continuing to fall, head groundskeeper Larry DiVito and umpire crew chief Brian O'Nora met after the fifth inning and decided to halt play. When the contest resumes on Wednesday, the Twins will send left-hander Brian Duensing to the mound to start the sixth inning. Duensing is expected to throw between two and three innings. Duensing has spent this season pitching out of the Twins' bullpen, but he was a member of the club's starting rotation last season. Gardenhire felt that Duensing was best prepared to take the spot. Right-hander Dave Robertson will take the mound for the Yankees when the game resumes. Since five innings had been completed, the contest would have been official if either team had been able to score a run. But Tuesday's contest was dominated early on by pitching. Twins right-hander Scott Baker and Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett each pitched five scoreless frames while scattering three hits. But despite the strong performances, both teams had opportunities to score. The Twins stranded two runners in each of the first two innings against Burnett, and they were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position when the contest was halted. In the third inning, Justin Morneau hit a high, towering drive to right field with two out that first appeared as though it might carry into the overhang for a home run. But it instead came down in play on the warning track and was caught by Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher. "I thought it had a shot -- I did," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I kept seeing Swish go back, back, back. It's got that overhang, too. I'm glad it didn't [go out]. That would have been bad. The ballpark has played big so far, and they've got some boys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark." New York's best chance to score came in the fourth inning, after Baker had cruised through three frames while facing the minimum nine hitters and getting two key double plays. But the Yankees led off the fourth with a single by Derek Jeter and a walk by Brett Gardner with the heart of their lineup -- Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano -- to come. Baker managed to retire all three in order, despite a momentary interruption from an unexpected visitor. With one out and Rodriguez at the plate, a squirrel ran onto the field and caused a momentary stop of play while it ran around Twins third baseman Brendan Harris, eventually dashing out to left field. On the first pitch after the brief stoppage, Baker struck out Rodriguez, and the crowd chanted even louder for the squirrel. Baker's ability to keep the Yankees off the board in the fourth inning helped prevent his club from suffering a loss, but he was left unable to complete his strong start due to the rain. Yet Baker didn't want to dwell on that fact. "You don't have a lot of control over that, so there is no point to try to worry about it or concern myself with it," Baker said. "It's just part of it now." Just like a suspended game is now part of Target Field's history.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.