“We’ll still be thinking about it tomorrow,” said Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, who was scheduled to pitch Monday. “This is our job, and we’re going to have to come out and play and have to win a baseball game. As inconsequential as that may seem, we’re going to have to come out and do our jobs.”
Bench coach Randy Knorr, who lives two blocks from Nationals Park, awoke Monday morning to sirens. Manager Davey Johnson was headed to the stadium early in the morning before he received a text message telling him to turn on the news and stay home. Haren woke up to a text message from his mother.
“We really didn’t want to play out of respect for the families and everyone involved,” Haren said. “Baseball obviously has to go on at some point, but it’ll probably be a little too quick to come here and have fans come in here and try to get up for a baseball game, because of how bad everyone feels for what happened.”
Once the doubleheader starts Tuesday, the Nationals and Braves will both have much to play for. With two wins, the Braves can clinch the National League East title. The Nationals will try to keep the Braves from celebrating on their home field and stay in the hunt for the NL’s second wild-card spot. The Nationals are five games behind the Cincinnati Reds with 13 to play, long odds they can overcome only with a flurry of victories.
The Nationals and Braves will both keep their rotations in line. Haren will start Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Braves lefty Mike Minor. Rookie right-hander Tanner Roark will face veteran Freddy Garcia in the nightcap. Wednesday, Alex Wood will start for the Braves.
The Nationals have yet to decide who they will start Wednesday, but all signs point to Ross Ohlendorf, who filled in for Stephen Strasburg on Friday with one run allowed in five innings in a win over Philadelphia. Strasburg threw a bullpen session Monday afternoon as he recovers from irritation in his right forearm, and he remains on track to start Thursday.
Fans with tickets to Monday night’s game can use them for Game 1 Tuesday or exchange them for a ticket of equal or less value this year or for a 2014 game in the lowest tier of the team’s pricing scale.
Both the Nationals and Braves will try to focus on a playoff race and the details of their craft. They know it will be difficult.