The Nationals and Phillies took the field on Saturday hoping to be able to squeeze their game in before inclement weather hit. They managed to get through an inning and a half, but before the Nationals could even finish their second opportunity at the plate, the rain was coming down hard. After Gio Gonzalez struck out to finish the top of the second frame, the tarp came out to stay.
At first, the game was simply delayed as the teams hoped for a break, but the rain was there to stay. It quickly turned from a sprinkle to a shower to a downpour, and at just after 5 pm EST, the game was officially cancelled.
The Nationals will play the make up game tomorrow as part of a Sunday doubleheader. Stephen Strasburg is currently set to get the start for the first game. It isn’t yet known who will start the second game, but the team has a little time to make the decision.
This may wind up benefitting the Nationals in the long run. Saturday, due to a multitude of injuries, the team was forced to trot out a lineup that included just one projected opening day starter (Ian Desmond). Bryce Harper was scheduled to miss his third straight game. Denard Span was out of the lineup with lingering back issues, and Yunel Escobar was out after leaving Friday night’s game following a hit-by-pitch.
Add to that the fact that Wilson Ramos, the team’s regular catcher, was on the bench to get some rest, and the Nationals were left with very little offensive firepower. Even while facing a Phillies lineup that lacked much power of its own, the Nats would have needed Gio to be on top of his game. It’s hard to say definitively how well Gonzalez would have pitched, but in the one inning of work that he got before the rains came, he bounced several offspeed pitches in the dirt.
All things considered, the rain delay may actually turn out to be a boon for the Nats in spite of the fact that they were forced to burn one of their starters after just one inning.