Sunday twin bill has become a rarity

There was a time when Sunday doubleheaders were just about a weekly occurrence for major league teams. That has not bee the case for quite some time. Take this Sunday, for example.

Friday night’s rainout of the scheduled game between the Yankees and the Pirates at Yankee Stadium, Saturday’s game being locked into the FoxSports television schedule and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball forced the Yankees to re-schedule the postponed game to a single-admission twin bill Sunday.

How rare is that? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it will be the first single-admission doubleheader at the current Stadium, which is in its sixth season, and the first in the Bronx since Sept. 29, 2004 against the Twins, a 5-3, 5-4 Yankees sweep. It will be the first single-admission doubleheader anywhere for the Yanks since May 13, 2013 at Cleveland (a 0-1, 7-0 split) and the first on a Sunday at the Stadium since April 13, 1997 against the Athletics (a 3-2, 4-7 split).

In the years when Sunday doubleheaders were regular parts of teams’ schedules, the players often had two open dates during the week, which eased travel concerns. But as television increasingly became a major source of revenue through prime-time advertising rates, the single-admission doubleheader went the way of getaway day games and pitchers hitting in the National League.

The Pirates are visiting the current Stadium for the first time and the Bronx for the first time since 2007. Pittsburgh is the 26th different opponent to play at the current Stadium. The Yankees are 20-5 in an opponent’s debut at the current Stadium.

The Yanks and Bucs opposed each other twice famously in World Series play. The Yankees’ “Murderers Row” team of 1927 featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig swept Pittsburgh. The Pirates got revenge in 1960 with an upset victory in seven games in which they were outscored, 55-27, but still survived with Bill Mazeroski nailing the Series with a leadoff home run off Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 at Forbes Field, one of the most exciting postseason games in history. The final score was 10-9. It remains the only World Series game in history in which no player struck out.

Jacoby Ellsbury was a late scratch from Saturday’s lineup because of the flu. The revamped lineup had Brett Gardner shifting from left field to center and opening up a start in left for Zoilo Almonte.

The Yankees’ Class A Tampa affiliate won an 18-inning marathon, 7-6, over the Palm Beach Cardinals Friday night at Steinbrenner Field. The winning pitcher was Wes Wilson, who in his first professional pitching appearance supplied four shutout innings in which he allowed one hit and no walks with three strikeouts. What made that so unusual is that Wilson played the first 14 innings behind the plate in his regular role as the team’s catcher and was 1-for-6.

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