“Just unforeseen circumstances,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said. “You never know, baseball.”
Tickets from Friday night’s game will not be valid Saturday. Fans can exchange their tickets for another game subject to availability.
Things were moving right along in the bottom of the fourth when the lights first went out. Ian Desmond had just grounded out, and Tyler Moore was headed to bat when a bank of lights on the third base line went out, dimming the area around home plate and the visitor’s dugout — though seemingly not by much. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann said he couldn’t tell which bank of lights was out at first, just that the field was darker. Williams was adamant that it was still far too dark to play safely.
“It’s not what players are used to, and guys throw way too hard to have somebody not be able to see a baseball,” Williams said. “You’re taking people’s lives into your hands at that point. We wanted the conditions to be appropriate.”
That bank first fell dark at 8:19 p.m. and stayed that way for more than an hour, delaying the game with the Dodgers ahead 2-1. They lit up again briefly, allowing for nine minutes of baseball before faltering again.
Some of the Nationals waited in the dugout when the lights went out since enough light remained to light the field and stands. Others played bocce in the bullpen while fans held cell phones, flashlights lit, toward the field.
The Nationals took the field after 1 hour 22 minutes, only to head back to the dugout after nine minutes, their starter, Zimmermann, burned following four innings and 63 pitches. Zimmermann said he was planning to come back into the game, playing catch a few times until the delay reached an hour, at which point the Nationals shut him down.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Zimmermann said. “It’s unfortunate. I felt pretty good tonight, then that happened. It’s just one of those things you can’t explain.”
Two of the four lights in the bank came back on around 10:18 p.m. By 10:23, the whole bank of lights was restored, and after another 40 minutes of delay, play resumed. Roark doubled to lead off the fifth and scored when Yunel Escobar homered. That all happened in about 12 minutes, after which the lights went out again, dooming the game to Saturday completion.
“After the second one, we knew that we weren’t going to do it again,” Williams said. “You end up spending pitchers, and guys sit around way too long. The fact that it happened three times, we don’t know exactly why, so they’re troubleshooting now and hopefully will have it done by tomorrow so there’s no more issue.”
The Nationals offered no information on what happened to the lights. Nationals Park was home to two Taylor Swift concerts over the all-star break, which left some damage in the outfield grass, but no information was given to suggest the concerts had anything to do with the outage. Fans who weren’t using their phones to help light the field were offering snarky social media updates about the delay. By the end, the few fans who had remained through two delays filed out quietly as the grounds crew raked the field.
The Nationals did not announce a pitching plan for the first game. Doug Fister is still scheduled to start the second. Both games will be televised on MASN.