- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009

NEW YORK | The weather before Game 2 of the American League Championship Series was as miserable and problematic as feared. As the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels prepared for an 8 p.m. start, they were simultaneously planning for the possibility that a rain delay would ice their starting pitchers for the better part of the evening.

But this being Yankee Stadium, the $1.5 billion, spare-no-expense shrine to the Steinbrenner family, the teams weren’t completely at the mercy of the weather.

The Yankees’ new home has a mound as part of the batting tunnel outside both clubhouses, allowing pitchers to stay loose during a rain delay. Before the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was toying with the idea of keeping starter A.J. Burnett pitching during a rain delay so he could head back to the mound if the game resumed in time.

“You usually look at 45 minutes kind of being - you teeter around that. How much longer do you go after that? But we’ll approach it as it goes,” Girardi said. “Some of it will depend how far he is into the game as well, but you have to be smart about it.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was mulling over the same call, and though the extra mound adds some comfort, there’s still an element of unpredictability. The longer a pitcher throws in the tunnel, the fewer pitches he’ll be able to throw in the game, which is why Girardi said he would usually prefer to simulate no more than an inning in the tunnel.

But in a stadium with a steakhouse, restaurant, full-service bar and a host of luxury seating options, it’s good to have choices.

Molina gets Burnett again

When Girardi picked Jose Molina, not Jorge Posada, to catch in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, Posada made it clear he wasn’t happy with the decision, and the move created a small firestorm in New York. Evidently it wasn’t big enough to keep Girardi from making the same call again.

Molina was in the lineup for Saturday’s Game 2, with Hideki Matsui the designated hitter and Posada on the bench.

“One of the things we talked about from day one when we came into spring training was to get to where we want - sometimes you have to make some sacrifices. And our players have done that all year long,” Girardi said. “As far as DHing Matsui over Posada, both of them have a small sample against Saunders. Matsui is a lot more experienced as a DH, so we thought we would go with him.”

TV ratings up

Fueled in large part by a slew of big-market teams going deep in this year’s playoffs, ratings for the first three games of the league championship series were the highest in the three years since TBS and Fox began sharing LCS coverage.

Major League Baseball announced Saturday that the first three games - one between the Yankees and Angels and two between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS - averaged a 4.2 household rating. On Friday, a combined 12.8 million viewers watched Game 2 of the Dodgers-Phillies series and Game 1 between the Yankees and Angels.

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