MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when two struggling pitchers appeared to be righting themselves, the rain came pouring down.
Umpires suspended the game Tuesday night between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins with the teams scoreless after five innings, the first time in Target Field history that a game was delayed, and stopped, while in progress.
New York's A.J. Burnett and Minnesota's Scott Baker were locked in quite the pitchers' duel, but both missed out on the chance to pick up what would have been an impressive, and needed, victory.
"You can't do anything about it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Mother Nature decided to water her plants."
The Twins moved outdoors to Target Field this season after 28 years under the protective roof of the Metrodome. The Twins have already had one game postponed -- on May 7 against Baltimore.
Heavy rain started to fall in about the third inning and was accompanied by several lightning strikes as the game progressed. Umpires finally called for the tarp after Orlando Hudson struck out to end the fifth and suspended the game one hour, 23 minutes later.
About 20 minutes after the game was called, it stopped raining.
"I didn't think it was raining too hard to play," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The game will resume in the top of the sixth inning on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. Central time. The second game of the series will either begin at its regularly scheduled time of 6:10 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Fans with tickets to the game Wednesday night are allowed to attend the early game, but fans who attended the game Tuesday night are not.
The Twins will send lefty Brian Duensing to the mound. Girardi did not reveal his plans for who would take over for Burnett.
Fans headed to the covered concourses seeking shelter, but plenty donned parkas and rain gear and sat out in the elements, enjoying their part in a quirky little moment of history.
The Twins had some fun as the delay stretched well past an hour, playing an "All-By-Myself" cam to Eric Carmen's famous song of sorrow, showing fans that were sitting in the stands all alone.
Thanks to Burnett and Baker, neither team put a run on the board in the first five innings, which would have allowed the umpires to put it in the books as a complete game.
Burnett allowed three hits and struck out five, getting Michael Cuddyer to ground out to shortstop with Denard Span on third base in the first inning to end the only real threat he faced.
It was an encouraging sign for the Yankees, who had dropped five of their last six games thanks due in part to the struggles of Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Burnett allowed 16 earned runs and went 0-2 in his previous three starts and Teixeira entered the night on a 2-for-28 skid.
"I did feel like I was throwing a little better," Burnett said. "Things happen for a reason."
Baker had been equally shaky, allowing 18 hits and eight earned runs in losing his previous two starts. But he allowed three hits and only one baserunner past first base.
"I don't have a lot of control over that so there's no point to even try to worry about it or concern myself with that," Baker said. "It's just kind of part of it now."
The Yankees had runners on runners on first and second with nobody out in the fourth inning. Teixeira popped out to second base, and then a squirrel threw a wrench into New York's rally.
The varmint somehow found his way on to the field, causing a brief delay as he charged toward Twins third baseman Brendan Harris.
The squirrel made a U-turn and headed to the outfield wall to seek shelter from the rain and ran the entire warning track as the crowd chanted, "Let's go squirrel! Let's go squirrel!"
On the next pitch following the momentary delay, Baker struck out Alex Rodriguez, then got Robinson Cano to fly out to end the inning. The squirrel stayed on the field for most of the fifth inning before ducking out of sight.
Harris said he couldn't remember another animal encounter during a game.
"Not unless it was a mascot," he said.
- Girardi said Javy Vazquez's bullpen session on Tuesday went well and he will start on Thursday in the series finale. Vazquez has been bothered by a bruised right index finger.
- Twins RHP Clay Condrey had another MRI on his injured shoulder, which has kept him out all season. Gardenhire said the test showed more inflammation and that doctors would confer before deciding the next step.