Masahiro Tanaka gets extra rest, and the Kansas City Royals get to stay on schedule.
The game between the Royals and New York Yankees was postponed by rain Thursday, with the announcement coming on a wet morning in New York City about five hours before the teams were supposed to play the finale of a four-game series. The local forecast called for inclement weather much of the day.
Instead, the game will be made up at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, previously an off day for both teams. A start time had not been determined.
Tanaka was initially lined up to pitch Thursday for New York. The ace right-hander has given up 14 runs and seven homers over 4 2/3 innings in his last two outings. He is 5-3 with a 6.56 ERA in nine starts this year.
Right-hander Miguel Almonte was slated to make his first major league start for the Royals.
Despite the rainout, the first-place Yankees were still conducting business. As expected, they placed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the seven-day concussion disabled list and recalled infielder-outfielder Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Ellsbury was injured Wednesday night when he crashed hard into the outfield fence to make a catch, robbing Alcides Escobar of extra bases on the first pitch of the game. Ellsbury exited after the first inning and was diagnosed with a concussion and sprained neck.
The postponement gave Tanaka at least one additional day between starts, a routine he's more accustomed to. Tanaka has made 55 of his 84 major league starts on five or more days of rest, going 32-12 with a 3.50 ERA in those games compared to 12-7 with a 3.30 mark on four days' rest.
New York, which holds a season-high 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East over Baltimore, hosts the Oakland Athletics this weekend. Before the rainout, CC Sabathia was scheduled to start the series opener Friday night.
The day off could also benefit Kansas City, down a starting pitcher after right-hander Nate Karns went on the 10-day disabled list this week because of nerve irritation in his pitching arm.
The Royals originally planned to start Almonte on Thursday to keep the regular members of their rotation on normal rest. The washout was no doubt a disappointment for the 24-year-old, who made nine relief appearances with Kansas City two years ago. Speaking through a translator, he said Wednesday the Yankees were his favorite team growing up and he admired Alex Rodriguez.
Almonte, called up Sunday, was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in six starts and one relief outing this year at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he struck out 35 and walked six in 29 innings.
If nothing else, the Royals were able to move on without a potentially long weather delay on getaway day in New York. The Yankees took two of three in the abbreviated series, including a 3-0 win Wednesday night behind Luis Severino.
Kansas City, which began the day with the worst record in the American League at 19-27, plays a three-game series at AL champion Cleveland this weekend. Ian Kennedy remains scheduled to start Friday night, followed by Jason Vargas on Saturday and Danny Duffy on Sunday.
The Royals also were rained out last Saturday at Minnesota before splitting a doubleheader with the Twins the following day.
It was the second time in two weeks the Yankees postponed an afternoon game long before it was scheduled to begin. They announced a May 13 rainout against Houston with an email at 5 a.m.
The team still planned to hold its HOPE Week charity event saluting an organization called A Moment of Magic on Thursday morning at Yankee Stadium. General manager Brian Cashman along with Sabathia, Severino, Jordan Montgomery and Michael Pineda — all dressed as popular superheroes — were set to surprise the volunteers and children with pediatric brain cancer.
The rescheduled game against Kansas City during the final week of the regular season will mark the beginning of New York's last homestand. The Yankees complete a series in Toronto the previous day. After facing the Royals on Monday, the Bronx Bombers host the Tampa Bay Rays and Blue Jays to close out the season.
Kansas City's final road trip gets extended to 11 games in four cities. The Royals finish a series at the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 24 before making a one-day stop in New York and then heading home to end the season against Detroit and Arizona.