The Washington Nationals’ momentum, if there is such a thing in baseball, came to a halt Friday night for reasons beyond their control. Inclement weather at Nationals Park postponed their game against the Cincinnati Reds. The game was rescheduled for Saturday as a split doubleheader. The first game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., while the nightcap will start at 7:05 p.m.
Heavy rainfall began drenching the ballpark a couple hours before the game’s scheduled first pitch, and the postponement announcement came just after 6:45 p.m. A few minutes later, the sun peeked through while a large number of fans remained in their seats undeterred. They eventually slowly made their way to the exits with another round of rain slated to pass through the region later on.
Doubleheaders are normal in baseball. Friday’s postponement, however, has created an unusually demanding set of circumstances for Washington. The Nationals were already scheduled to play a doubleheader Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, giving them a pair of twin bills in four days. They have a series finale Sunday against the Reds and an off-day on Monday in between. All the games are crucial for a club that reported to work Friday five games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.
Both the Nationals and Reds will push Friday’s scheduled starters — Gio Gonzalez and Anthony DeSclafani — back to Saturday’s first game. Jeremy Hellickson will oppose Matt Harvey in the nightcap. Tanner Roark and Luis Castillo remain on tap for Sunday.
The Nationals have won three straight and six of their last eight, and have done so behind their starting rotation, which has returned to its previous form even as Stephen Strasburg sits on the disabled list again. Washington’s starters have posted a 1.88 ERA — the second-best mark across the majors — during the modest stretch. The rotation is again resembling the one that ranked atop the National League for the season’s first two months.
It’s on Gonzalez and Hellickson to continue the success on Saturday. A couple deep starts could spare the bullpen from carrying a significant burden with a few potentially strenuous days ahead.
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