Heavy rain forced the suspension of Friday's Major League Baseball (MLB) playoff between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers, ruining the eagerly-awaited clash between Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, two of the game's greatest pitchers.

The opening game of the best-of-five series was suspended in the middle of the second inning with the teams tied at 1-1 when Yankee Stadium was hit by a heavy rain storm that soaked the field and sent the capacity crowd scurrying for cover.

The players continued for several minutes, hoping the showers would pass, but were soon called off and did not return. The game was suspended one hour 17 minutes later with rain forecast to continue through the night.

MLB officials said the American League division series game would resume on Saturday night, creating a backlog of games.

Game Two, originally scheduled for Saturday, was shifted to Sunday afternoon before Game Three was scheduled to begin in Detroit on Monday.

We knew it was going to rain but we didn't think it was going to rain this hard, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

It's not what either club wanted but both clubs have to deal with it.

The delay meant both teams would now probably get to use their ace pitchers once in the series with both Girardi and Detroit manager Jim Leyland confirming they would use fresh pitchers on Saturday.

I don't worry about stuff like that, Leyland said about having the rain rob him of a chance to pitch Verlander (24-5) twice.

I think when the manager makes a big deal about something like that, it affects the players.

Girardi said Ivan Nova would take the mound Saturday and Freddy Garcia on Sunday.

Leyland said Doug Fister would take the ball for Detroit on Saturday, followed by Max Scherzer Sunday and Verlander on Monday.

Girardi said he was not sure when Sabathia would be able to get back to work, though the big left-hander said he was eager and would weigh how he felt after Friday's exertions.

I want the ball as much as possible. We'll just have to wait and see what happens, said Sabathia, who was 19-8 this season.