The Texas Rangers beat the New York Yankees in a game that started Monday night.
If only it were that cut and dried.
A controversial stoppage of play in the ninth inning due to rain halted a potential Rangers rally, but they endured a delay of 3 hours, 35 minutes to score four times after play resumed at 2:15 a.m. local time Tuesday and left Yankee Stadium with a 9-6 victory.
Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers the lead with a two-run single, and Elvis Andrus added another two-run single with two outs as the Rangers became the first team in the major leagues to reach 50 wins.
As the clock approached 3 after a game that ended at 2:44 a.m., the Rangers’ clubhouse was euphoric after they felt that a chance at victory had been taken away from them earlier.
“I don’t want to make it more than it is. I don’t want to make it any less than it is,” manager Jeff Banister said. “The bigger story is how this group of players continues to impress me on how they want to play. They wanted the opportunity to play it out on the field and feel like they had an opportunity to play it out to the final out.”
Ian Desmond homered and drove in two runs, Shin-Soo Choo had two hits and two RBIs and Rougned Odor connect for a solo homer in the eighth, but the Rangers still trailed 6-5 entering the ninth inning.
Hard-throwing Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman entered from the bullpen, but he quickly walked Robinson Chirinos to open the inning and then went to a 3-1 count against Choo.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi emerged from the dugout to ask crew chief Paul Nauert if he could inspect the mound and also give Chapman a dry rosin bag.
“I didn’t ask him to stop the game,” Girardi said. “To me, the game should’ve been stopped earlier than that. We played in horrible conditions, and I think you risk injuries to players. We saw a bunch of their outfielders slip. It’s hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did. We lost.”
The umpires, though, stopped play at 10:40 p.m. local time. The Rangers objected to the umpires’ decision to stop the game only minutes after right-hander Tony Barnette had tossed a scoreless eighth inning, striking out the final two batters to pitch around a pair singles to open the inning.
The rain, which started falling in the fifth inning, hadn’t intensified by the time Chapman took the mound, nor had the left-hander slipped on any of his deliveries. He had no control, though, throwing only two of his nine pitches for strikes.
“We didn’t think it was fair,” Beltre said. “We played under the rain the whole game, and our pitcher just pitched the same way the inning before and nobody called the game. Why in the ninth inning when we were trying to win the game? I don’t think it was fair.”
Banister downplayed the disagreement afterward, saying that the umpires acted professionally and then fairly by waiting out the rain and allowing the game to be concluded.
Had the umpires decided that play could not resume, the game would have reverted to the end of the last inning completed and the Yankees would have won 6-5 in eight innings.
“The umpires make a decision based on the conditions of the field,” Banister said. “They made their decision. There’s obviously agitation on both sides, but I felt like the umpires handled the entire situation in a professional manner. They care for these players. They pulled them off. They felt it was time to pull them off, and allowed us to finish the game.”
Chapman didn’t return after the long delay, giving way to right-hander Kirby Yates. He struck out Choo on two pitches after the resumption, but then hit Desmond and Nomar Mazara to load the bases for Beltre.
The third baseman dropped a liner into left field for a 7-6 lead, and Andrus followed three batters later with a flare into right field for a three-run lead.
The Yankees sent the potential tying run to the plate twice in their last at-bat against Sam Dyson, but he registered his 16th save in an almost empty stadium.
“I’ve done it quite a few times, many minor-league games,” Dyson said. “You try to execute your pitches the best you can and hope that things go well.”
Things did go well for the Rangers, well after midnight and well after they initially thought they had been robbed at a chance to rally.
“That wait, it was worth it,” Beltre said. “I wanted to win so bad today because I didn’t think it was fair.”