July 23 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees kicked off MLB's pandemic-shortened 2020 season with a storm-halted victory over ace Max Scherzer and the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals on Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
The Yankees held a 4-1 lead midway through the contest when severe weather entered the area, prompting a delay in the top of the sixth inning. After a one-hour, 58-minute delay -- 15 minutes more than actual game time -- the matchup was called off and New York was awarded the win.
Scherzer (0-1) recorded 11 strikeouts and was still in the contest for the Nationals when play was halted. In the first inning, the three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed a two-run home run to 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton that traveled 459 feet into the crowd-free seats.
Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge followed that with an RBI double in the third. Stanton added an RBI single in the fifth to push New York's advantage to 4-1.
Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees this past off-season, impressed in his debut wearing pinstripes. He gave up only one hit in his five innings and struck out five.
Cole's (1-0) lone blunder came in the first, when Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton sent a 98-mph fastball over the fence in right field. The ball traveled 406 feet and landed on top of the blue advertising tarps that stretch over unused seats at Nationals Park.
The Nationals took the field Thursday without 21-year-old star Juan Soto, who tested positive for the coronavirus hours before first pitch. Soto will be allowed to return to the club this season -- which was shortened from the traditional 162 games to 60 because of the COVID-19 outbreak -- after a series of negative tests.
After Friday's day off, the series between the Yankees and Nationals resumes Saturday night at Nationals Park. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is set to take the mound for Washington against New York's James Paxton.