The Nationals hope to avoid using the tarp during Thursday’s series finale. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

With thunderstorms due Thursday night, the Washington Nationals decided to move their series finale with the Seattle Mariners to 12:05 p.m., a somewhat surprising move, though an understandable one. Should the Nationals and Mariners need to postpone a game this week, the Mariners probably would have to fly back across the country to make it up. Neither team wants to deal with the scheduling challenges a trip like that would cause.

The Nationals say all tickets to the 4:05 p.m. game will be honored for the earlier start time, though that game was scheduled as Federal Workforce Day on the Nationals’ promotional schedule. Presumably, the earlier start time will make it more difficult for members of the federal workforce to attend. But the ever-changing forecast has been fairly steady in calling for a playable weather window sometime around midday — and fairly consistent in suggesting that the chances of playing decrease as the day goes along.

Regardless, instead of the regularly scheduled 4:05 p.m. start, the teams will play an early afternoon game, the second-earliest start time on the Nationals’ schedule. They will play at 11:00 a.m. on July 4, in keeping with tradition.

Gio Gonzalez will start the game for the Nationals, who begin a series with the San Diego Padres on Friday night, then fly to San Francisco for a 1 p.m. Pacific start on Memorial Day, the beginning of a three-city road swing. They do not return from the trip until June 8.