NEW YORK -- Argue all you want about whether Friday night's rain helped the Yankees or the Tigers.
Saturday night, there was no need to argue.
Could this night have gone any better for the Yankees?
Ivan Nova looked like a real postseason starter -- even though he was technically pitching in relief. Robinson Cano looked like an MVP -- even though the fans were chanting "M-V-P" for Curtis Granderson.
In a series where Justin Verlander can likely now affect only one game, the Yankees are already ahead, one game to none, after Saturday's 9-3 rout (in a continuation of the game that began in Friday's rain).
And in a series where there could now be four games in four days, Nova pitched so well (and the Yankees eventually scored so much) that manager Joe Girardi could avoid using almost all his top relievers. He shouldn't have had to use any of them, but after Nova got the Yankees to the ninth inning, Luis Ayala was so bad that Mariano Rivera had to get the final out.
Nova took over for Sabathia, who pitched two innings before the rain. Doug Fister took over for Verlander, who pitched one inning before the suspension. On this night, it was advantage Nova, and advantage Yankees.
No one is saying, one game into a long postseason, that the Yankees look unbeatable. No one is saying, one game into a short series, that the Tigers can't come back.
But in one game over two days, the Yankees grabbed a clear edge.
They reminded us how strong their lineup can be. They showed us that they have a starter other than CC Sabathia capable of throwing some shutout innings.
And they can win the series even if they never beat Verlander -- and if they lose another game, as well.
As for the Tigers, they'll look back on the moments when Game 1 turned against them.
Specifically, they'll wonder about third-base coach Gene Lamont's decision to send Alex Avila home on a one-out Jhonny Peralta single in the fifth inning. It was a 1-1 game at the time, Nova had begun looking a little vulnerable, and the Tigers could have had the bases loaded with one out.
Instead, the Yankees got a perfect relay from Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin, Avila was out at the plate, and the inning ended with the game still tied. The Yankees then took the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Cano's double off the wall.
The next decision came an inning later, when Fister was beginning to falter. Tigers manager Jim Leyland allowed him to face Granderson (who walked to load the bases), then brought in right-hander Al Alburquerque to face the left-handed hitting Cano.
Cano is basically immune to lefties (during the season, his OPS against right-handers was .884, vs. lefties .879), and Alburquerque was very, very good against left-handed hitters (.176).
Alburquerque hung a slider, Cano sent it soaring to the right-field seats for the Yankees' first postseason grand slam in 12 years (Ricky Ledee hit the last one), and rest of the game didn't matter.
Cano ended up with six RBI, tying a Yankee postseason record set in 1960 by Bobby Richardson and tied by Bernie Williams (1999) and Hideki Matsui (2009).
The Tigers ended up with a one game to none deficit.
And no one was talking about the rain.