By BENJAMIN STANDIG, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals told their fans to expect water Thursday night, and after three hours of waiting under storm-less skies, they finally delivered.
The Nationals delayed their series opener against the Atlanta Braves for 3 hours, 5 minutes despite negligible rain. As a reward for fans who stuck around, Washington gave away free soda, ice cream, and yes, water.
Atlanta beat Washington 5-2 when play resumed. The game ended at 1:20 a.m.
“For 15 minutes of rain, that’s unbelievable,” Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said. “I’m talking to you at 1:30 in the morning right now for a 15-minute delay.”
The Nationals’ scheduled game Wednesday night against the New York Mets was postponed amid a downpour and after a delay of 1 hour, 55 minutes, but only a very brief shower hit Nationals Park on Thursday before first pitch was thrown at 10:10 p.m.
“That’s a first for me,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Kind of frustrating.”
The grounds crew didn’t put the tarp on the infield until 74 minutes after scheduled first pitch. Light rain eventually fell, but only for a couple of minutes.
After the delay reached 2 1/2 hours, the Nationals posted a statement on the video scoreboard saying, “It is our sincere hope that we will be able to play tonight’s game. The weather system that we have been monitoring is beginning to reach the ballpark & should pass through shortly. … Thank you for your patience.”
Despite the warning, the grounds crew removed the dry tarp 10 minutes later, and players began warming up in the outfield.
During the delay, a tweet from Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte read, “This No-Rain delay is something I’ve never seen before!!” When someone suggested he and his teammates take advantage of the break with some slip-and-slide fun on the tarp, Inciarte responded, “Can’t. The tarp is dry.”
Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz and Gonzalez pitched as scheduled with a smattering of fans remaining.
“It was a weird night, but we got through it with a win and that’s all we can do,” Foltynewicz said.
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