The Washington Nationals could have been enjoying a leisurely afternoon back home today, but instead the club is spending yet another evening in Pittsburgh playing the Pirates and a seventh consecutive day on the road.
Rain postponed Friday’s first game of this three-game series at PNC Park, and with today originally scheduled as an off day for both clubs, pushing the game back made sense.
What didn’t sit so well in the clubhouse was the choice of starting time. Rather than playing during the day and giving the Nationals some extra time to get back to the District, the 7:05 p.m. start means the team won’t be home until most likely the wee hours before having to get to Nationals Park for the start of a three-game series against the New York Mets.
Nationals players were trying to make the most of the free time they had in the hours leading up to the game. Some watched television--MLB network, of course--while others fiddled on their mobile phones or played video games on their iPads.
The mood was largely relaxed, considering the players would rather have been getting some rest during this early stage of the lengthy big league season.
But as pitcher John Lannan, tonight’s starter on normal rest because of Friday’s postponement, blurted out: “Why aren’t we playing in the afternoon?”
It was roughly 3:45 when the left-hander asked that, and had the game in fact started during the afternoon, which by the way featured clear skies and temperatures in the 70s, it may well have been near its completion at that time.
Instead, as players took the field for batting practice roughly an hour before first pitch, the skies began to darken as ominous clouds moved over the ballpark.
It’s not as if the Pirates have fans flocking to the stadium either, which might have been a reasonable excuse to keep the Nationals here late night. Yesterday, the announced attendance was 9,520, the fewest this season at PNC Park.