There was a very weird baseball game in New York last night. The Yankees led the Rangers 6-5 heading into the ninth inning of a game that had been waterlogged by rainstorms since the fifth. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman entered the storm to try and close things out, but walked the first batter he faced. That’s when manger Joe Girardi made a move that may have cost himself a win, and everyone else a lot of sleep.
After Chapman issued his walk, Girardi stepped onto the field and started talking to umpire crew chief Paul Nauert. Girardi would later claim that he was only asking for the opportunity to give his closer a new rosin bag and make sure the dirt on the mound was stable, but Nauert decided to call for a rain delay right after his conversation with Girardi.
The rain Chapman was dealing with was no worse than it had been during the previous two innings, and Rangers manager Jeff Bannister was understandably upset that the Yankees were given a reprieve from the same storm his own pitchers had weathered. Much of the game had been played in a rain storm, so it seemed logical to just keep pushing ahead and wrap up the last three outs.
Bannister and the Rangers had karma on their side, though. After a three-and-a-half hour rain delay, play finally resumed after 2:30 a.m. Chapman, having been iced for so long, was no longer available, so Girardi handed the ball over to Kirby Yates. After striking out the first batter he faced, Yates proceeded to hit the next two. Two run-scoring singles by Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus made the score 9-6, and the Rangers went on to win.
Girarid was miffed after the game, telling reporters, “It’s hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did, and we lost.”
Girardi has nobody to blame for the loss but himself. Even if you buy that he only stopped the game in the ninth to ask for a new rosin bag, he must have known that stepping out onto the field and drawing the umpires’ attention to the conditions was going to increase the chances of a rain delay. Maybe he was hoping that the umpires would just call the game right there, and he would be able to steal a win while recording just 24 outs.
But baseball is a just sport, and those who attempt to sully the game with acts of chicanery will be punished. Joe Girardi had to sit in the rain for over three hours and then he lost a baseball game, as it was meant to be.