(Alex Brandon/AP)

UPDATE, 11:21 p.m.: The Nationals formally announced the postponement and doubleheader at 11:06 p.m. The team’s official twitter account announced the doubleheader at 10:54 p.m. but an announcement wasn’t displayed on the Nationals Park scoreboard in right field until after 11 p.m. The spattering of few fans that remained stayed in their seats until the scoreboard announcement was made, nearly four hours after scheduled first pitch.

The second game of the doubleheader is considered the makeup game. So fans unable to attend the 7 p.m. game can exchange their tickets for any 2014 game, except for opening day or “marquee games.”

UPDATE, 10:53 p.m.: The Marlins announced that the game has been postponed and the teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday. The first game will be at 1:35 p.m. and the second at 7:05 p.m. The Nationals haven’t announced anything yet. The rain delay was three hours and 46 minutes long, perhaps bordering on absurd.

UPDATE, 10:05 p.m.: It is still raining at Nationals Park, ranging from strong to light but without much letup. The Nationals still hope to play this game, but haven’t provided any updates as to when the game may start. The few fans that remain are huddled for cover. The delay is three hours long.

UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: Rain is still falling. There is no word about any postponement.

UPDATE, 6:07 p.m.: An hour before first pitch, the tarp remains on the field at Nationals Park and rain continues to fall. By all indications, the two teams appear to want to wait out the rain for an opening in which to play. Only a few dozen fans have braved the weather to arrive early.

ORIGINAL, 5:19 p.m.: The forecast looks bleak and, as of 5 p.m. on Saturday, it is raining at Nationals Park, where the tarp is on the field. The Nationals cling to their playoffs hopes — five games back of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates with eight games left — so Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins is utterly important. The Nationals are scheduled to play the Marlins in the series finale at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday, also a travel day to St. Louis after the game.

“My radar doesn’t look good,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s coming all the way from Atlanta. It’s raining hard and [Stephen Strasburg] is pitching so it’s even worse.”

That Strasburg often encounters rain delays on days that he starts is a running joke among the Nationals. He is slated to start Saturday after missing two starts with forearm tightness/cramping and, of course, he is supposed to return on the day with heavy rain. “How is he going to handle it,” Johnson said, with a smile. “That’s the question.”

The forecast calls for thunderstorms until midnight and lighter showers until sunrise. Sunday’s forecast is far kinder; a far slimmer chance of rain during the day. In the clubhouse before Saturday’s game, reliever Drew Storen, the players’ union representative for the Nationals, chatted with a team official. Johnson would prefer that the two teams indeed postpone Saturday’s game, instead of hanging around all night for an opening in the rain, and play two games on Sunday. That would, in turn, make it easier for Strasburg.

“I’d like to call it early and play a double header,” Johnson said. ” It’s easier on everybody. That said we’ll probably be here until one [a.m.].”

Marlins Manager Mike Redmond sounded more optimistic. “I’m anticipating we’ll play this game tonight no matter what,” he told Marlins beat reporters.

We’ll keep you updated on the situation here.

Also worth noting: Jayson Werth is in Saturday’s lineup despite leaving after seven innings the day before with heavy legs, which Werth said was a product of playing in September. “He’s going to have to come tell me he can’t go,” Johnson said. “Maybe I can get five innings out of him. A couple doubles. It’s that time of year, boys.”