NEW YORK -- It was raining all night. It even rained into the morning. But it wasn't until the top of the ninth inning of Monday's 9-6 Yankees loss the Rangers that the rain was deemed too much.
And, to Joe Girardi, that was silly.
"To me, the game should've been stopped earlier than that," Girardi said. "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."
How things got to that point can be pretty easily explained, though. The Yankees held a one-run lead in the top of the ninth. Aroldis Chapman was on the mound and he was struggling to throw strikes. Even though the grounds crew had reapplied dirt to the mound multiple times, it seemed as if he was struggling to find his footing and misfired a couple of times, walking catcher Robinson Chirinos and working himself into an unfavorable count against leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo.
It was at this point that Girardi came out to talk to the umpires, asking to inspect the mound and get Chapman a fresh rosin bag. Within a minute, though Girardi said he didn't ask for a delay, the tarp was being rolled out onto the field and the game entered a delay. Three hours and 35 minutes later, play resumed and the Yankees couldn't close out the ninth inning.
But to Girardi, the game shouldn't have gotten anywhere close to that point.
"I've never been involved where you've waited 3 1/2 hours in the middle of a game," Girardi said. "To start a game, yeah. You're not loosening players up, you're not burning pitchers. I understand that. But never in the middle of a game. Not in a circumstance like tonight.
"If it's 10-4, you think we wait 3 1/2 hours? So what's the difference? What's the difference? It's conditions, right?" Girardi continued. "I think what you worry about is the conditions. And I think [in] the eighth inning it was dangerous that both teams were out there."
Crew chief Paul Nauert explained after the game that his intention all along was to finish the game. In his words, he had to give both teams an "equal, fair opportunity." Nauert's opinion didn't jive with Girardi's about when the game should have been called, either, saying that he and the grounds crew deemed the game was delayed exactly when it should have been.
A game can be suspended if the visiting team has scored to take a lead in the top half of the inning, but since that was not the case, the only alternative to waiting out the rain was to call the game. That would have resulted in a 6-5 Yankees victory.
"The rain wasn't to a point in which we couldn't play, but when we got to the ninth inning, we continued to work on the field [and] it was determined by the crew that the field was still playable," Nauert said. "The rain had not gotten that heavy and we were not getting complaints from anybody, so we put them out there and as that inning progressed the rain picked up and it became standing puddles."
For Chapman, having to pitch on a field of standing puddles was far from easy. He explained after the game that the toughest parts of pitching in a downpour were finding the grip on the ball and the right place to land his foot on his follow through.
To remedy this, Chapman said he kept asking for new balls as frequently as he could and tried to work through it. But he couldn't. Nor could he come back out after the delay. He wanted to, but Girardi didn't let him.
Girardi said he didn't want to see Chapman get hurt. He didn't want anyone to get hurt. That's why he thought the game should've ended long before 2:44 a.m. ET when it finally did.
"You're putting your athletes at risk," Girardi said. "You're having them sit down for three-and-a-half hours, you're asking them to get loose again. You've got guys slipping all over the outfield. When does health become a concern?. The infield was soft when we went back out there. No one is going to feel sorry for us and I don't expect anyone to, but I thought it was a poor decision."