Outlook good for mostly dry Game 1
Only areas of drizzle predicted for Friday night in Bronx
NEW YORK -- The lights are on at Yankee Stadium, the tarpaulin is off the field and the gates are open. The Yankees and Angels expect to have baseball on Friday evening, kicking off Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
A drizzly forecast has tapered off and both clubs were taking batting practice on the field, bundled up to protect themselves from temperatures expected to be in the 40s but otherwise dry for the moment as a 7:57 p.m. ET first pitch on FOX approaches.
Some precipitation remains in the forecast for Friday's Game 1, but as scheduled starters CC Sabathia and John Lackey get ready in their respective clubhouses, it appeared that the conditions could be playable.
"You really never know until you go through it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Cold is one thing to deal with, wet is another. Balls can take off on wet turf, which can change the complexion of a game. ... But there's no doubt the conditions are going to be raw tonight. And you hope that a ball doesn't skid off the grass and take a bad hop that could cost you."
"I think the trick is to go out there and get it done under any conditions," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Anybody can play this game with 70 degrees and it's beautiful. When it's going to be like it is tonight, you have to keep your focus -- keep your focus defensively and certainly on the mound with whatever happens with the pitcher and the catcher. Bring your game plan out there and execute it as well as you can."
As of 6 p.m. on Friday, Weather.com -- the official Web site of the Weather Channel -- was forecasting a 10 percent chance of precipitation for the scheduled first pitch of Game 1, with temperatures of 45 degrees and possible showers continuing into the overnight with winds at 10 to 15 mph. For Saturday night's Game 2, the forecast was for a 90 percent chance of precipitation with temperatures around 45 degrees, with a steady rain later in the day and rainfall near a quarter of an inch.
"This is Yankee weather," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "We've been playing like this all year. It seems like every time we come home, it's been raining. We deal with it and they have to deal with it."
In the event of a postponement, Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said that the tickets for Games 1 and 2 would be honored for those games. For example, if Friday's game had been pushed to Saturday, only tickets for Game 1 would be honored at Yankee Stadium for the ALCS opener.
The forecasted conditions could impact the way players approach the games, Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said.
"It's tough to stay warm between innings," Damon said. "You have to keep going and stretching. Pop flies depend on how much it's raining. The rain can drop in your eyes and make the lights brighter and make the field slippery here. It could be difficult, but one common thing is that both teams have to adjust as much as each team can."
If the infield is slippery, the teams could be forced to go more station-to-station, cutting down an aggressive Angels running attack that the Yankees are planning to use pitchouts and slide-steps to combat.
"The elements are there," Scioscia said. "You're going to have to just get around them and play as well as you can and hopefully win. There's going to be elements out there today that are going to affect both teams, and probably maybe slow down some of the things both teams are going to be able to do. It's definitely going to affect both pitchers. After the game, we'll be talking about it and see how much it does."
The Yankees have invited all fans interested in weather updates concerning future home games to check out Yankees.com/weather.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.