By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Randy Johnson's pursuit of his 300th win must wait. After a rain delay that lasted 3 hours 42 minutes, last night's scheduled game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants was called at 10:47 p.m. because of the condition of the playing field.
Johnson, the veteran Giants pitcher, will chase history in the first game of a traditional doubleheader. He will match up against Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann at 4:35 today. Fellow rookie Ross Detwiler will start the second game for the Nationals against San Francisco's Matt Cain.
"The field is not playable, and that's the reason we can't play tonight," Nationals President Stan Kasten said minutes before 11 p.m. "As you know, we really tried. The umpires really tried. We all tried getting it done. At the end of the night, it's not worth the risk to our players to play on that field tonight."
Heavy rain poured throughout much of the delay, but team officials were insistent on trying to play the game. Several factors complicated the situation. The historic significance of Johnson's start prompted fans to purchase seats. Today's forecast called for more bad weather, which makes today's doubleheader a similarly risky proposition. Plus, the teams have no mutual off days and they do not meet again after this series.
Kasten even announced the intention to play the game while the rain accumulated. He appeared with Giants President Larry Baer, and they had conferred with the umpires and managers.
After the announcement, Kasten and Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo could be seen walking in the outfield with the umpires probing the field. Water splashed from their feet.
"It was pretty bad out there. They did all they could," Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said. "They wanted to get it in, and we did, too. But you don't want to make a farce out of it, either. We have two tomorrow."
Johnson is trying to become the 24th player in major league history to reach 300 wins. His appearance caused much anticipation -- and according to his manager, he was calm while waiting for the opportunity.
Johnson "was just trying to find out the updates on the weather and the possible starting time," Bochy said. "Other than that, he was relaxed and waiting to hear word."
Throughout the delay, Bochy did not waver on starting Johnson. Even when the starting time appeared it might stretch four hours after the scheduled start, Bochy and Johnson wanted to stick to the plan.
"He was still good and fine to go at that time," Bochy said. "He didn't waver on that either. I think it was finally starting to wear on him at the end when it was raining and it was not going to start at 10:45 or 11. They made the right call, and he'll be ready to go tomorrow."
The same will be true of Zimmermann, a rookie who will try to combat history. Zimmermann is 2-2 with a 6.07 ERA. He has been complimented for a composed demeanor even though he will be the forgotten starter for today's game.
"They've been through dates like this," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said before last night's scheduled game. "Hey, this is it. Zimmermann versus Johnson. Go get 'em. Hopefully we'll get to a point where people are going to be talking about Zimmermann, not about 300 wins, but, 'Hey, we're facing the tough Zimmermann from the Nationals today'. I think he's going to be able to separate the two of them. In our clubhouse, I think everyone agrees it's great what Randy is trying to accomplish, but we don't want it to happen here."
Despite the delay, many fans appeared to stay. They found shelter in the concourses while the large video board displayed footage from another game. One fan even streaked across the tarp. He came from the right field line, ran to second base and around the infield before sliding at home into the arms of a collection of security guards.
All tickets for last night's game -- including season tickets -- may be exchanged for identically priced tickets for any 2009 Nationals game, except the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on June 23-25. Parking passes will follow the same procedure. Today's nightcap will begin approximately 25 minutes after the completion of the first game.