NEW YORK -- The dream matchup of Orioles ace Mike Mussina against the New York Yankees' David Cone lasted less than an inning last night, when a thick mist turned into a hard rain, leading to a postponement after a 2-hour, 45-minute delay.
But that did not end the confusion: Almost all the Orioles left Yankee Stadium not knowing when to show up to work today. About 10 minutes after the Orioles team bus departed, the Yankees announced there will be a single game played tonight at 7: 35 -- Scott Erickson will pitch against New York's Andy Pettitte -- and a doubleheader tomorrow.
However, the Yankees don't know when the doubleheader will begin, and the managers don't know who will pitch. Orioles manager Davey Johnson said he will see how Mussina feels today before deciding if he can pitch one of the games tomorrow, and likewise for Cone. David Wells will pitch one of tomorrow's games for the Orioles, while Yankees left-hander Kenny Rogers probably will start a game, as well.
The Orioles trail the Yankees by three games in the division, with 13 games remaining for each club. The Orioles retained their three-game lead in the wild-card race, but now are most closely pursued by the Seattle Mariners. The Chicago White Sox lost to Cleveland last night to fall 3 1/2 games back.
Today's Orioles-Yankees game could be in jeopardy because additional showers were forecast for last night and today.
It rained all day in New York yesterday, but late in the evening, the rain turned to mist, raising hopes last night's game could be played. Umpire Joe Brinkman, the crew chief, ordered the game to be started on time.
"This time of the year you'll probably start in the drizzle," said Brinkman, "but you wouldn't in April, May or June. It's just that way in a pennant race. But you got to make a decision sooner or later. I don't have any problem with anything I did, no. Like I said, I thought we could get through it."
But the mist grew thicker almost as soon as Cone threw his first pitch to Orioles leadoff hitter Brady Anderson, who fouled off one pitch straight up behind home plate. Yankees catcher Joe Girardi, staring up into the mist, missed the ball by 10 feet.
"Usually, you don't start the game in the rain," said Anderson. "I was surprised they started."
As the bottom of the first inning began, it began to pour, and with two outs and two Yankees on base, Brinkman waved the players off the field. More than two hours later, Brinkman walked out to check the field, which was flooded in parts of the outfield.
"There was four inches of water in left field," said Brinkman, "and there's no place to go with it. They said they'd have to push the water off the field, and that would take at least an hour and a half. That puts us after 12: 30 a.m., or something like that. The way it is right now, someone could easily get hurt."
The Yankees wanted to play a day-night doubleheader tomorrow, but the Orioles' players voted against that. But while the Orioles were still waiting to hear if the game was postponed, many of the Yankees players began to leave, leaving some Orioles incensed.
"I'm surprised we don't know what we're doing," said Roberto Alomar. "The Yankees left 45 minutes ago, and we're still here."
Johnson shook his head. "Sorry to be so vague about everything," he said, "but I really don't know what's going to happen. . . . It's out of my control, and I can't give you any insight into our pitching situation or anything."
Johnson would like Mussina to pitch tomorrow, but he said he'll defer to Mussina and how his arm rebounds. "I definitely don't want to bring him back if he's a little stiff," said Johnson.
Mussina threw only 15 pitches, though, and compared that to a light bullpen workout he usually does between starts. "It's no big deal," he said. "I don't want to mess up the other starters."
Pub Date: 9/18/96