Nationals Notebook: May showers bring Met Madness

Perception is often reality — even in the world of sports, where “you are what your record says,” and the Washington Nationals have gained a reputation over the years as a club that doesn’t handle rain delays efficiently.

So when Saturday’s game with the New York Mets was delayed four hours before getting called, many were not happy, including the Mets broadcasters. And having covered the Nats over the years, I’ve witnessed more than a few curious delays and postponements (including one where the game was banged only to have the clouds vanish and lead to a beautiful evening).

The cynic will say that some delays are extended because the home team wants to maximize concessions before postponing. Visiting teams will be impatient because the game isn’t being called on their timetable (every organization handles things a little bit differently). But Saturday, the Nats were thrown a curveball by the weather.

“The reports were it was not supposed to rain, (then) it started raining. It was supposed to rain light, and it got to the point where it was heavy. As we all saw the field, it was getting really bad,” Manager Davey Martinez said after the game was called.

“Umpires made the right call by pulling everybody off of the field. But we wanted to make sure we got it right, we gave them a chance to try to get it ready. We just didn’t feel like it was safe for the players. We were all in agreement at that point. Sometimes Mother Nature gets the best of you.”

On the bright side, the Mets wraparound series (meaning they play one more time Monday) allowed a little flexibility, and they were able to finish the first while playing a second game Sunday.

On the dark side, those with Mother’s Day reservations and tickets to Saturday’s game had to make a difficult decision while those with later reservations and an early Sunday afternoon ticket had to do the same.

What’s the extended forecast looking like for this upcoming weekend?

Digesting the Division: Atlanta (25-15) leads at the quarter turn thanks in part to a rotation that ranks third in the big leagues with a 3.27 ERA as second-year starter Bryce Elder (3-0, 1.94) is turning into the Braves’ newest phenom. The Philadelphia Phillies (20-20) lost Sunday after Bryce Harper got tossed for charging the Rockies’ dugout (I don’t believe Jonathan Papelbon was lurking there) but it’s another ex-Nat who’s their biggest bat. Kyle Schwarber has a team-high nine home runs.

But, Schwarber is hitting just .194. The New York Mets (20-21) are in the mix, despite ranking 21st in team ERA and tying for 22nd in runs scored. Miami (20-21) is out of last place because the Marlins are 12-1 in one-run games. The Nationals (17-23) aren’t on pace to lose 100 games, and that’s a victory after 2022.

Break up the Birds: Even with their 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday, the Orioles have taken consecutive series against division leaders. And even though they’re currently behind Tampa Bay (you can call them Rays) in the AL East, the O’s have won 10 of 13 series played this year. It’s not an accident that these O’s are for real. Enjoy the summer in Baltimore at one of the best ballparks and surrounding areas for pre and postgame fun. The beer will be rather cold.

Last Week’s Heroes: Alex Call hit .333 while providing solid defense in centerfield with Victor Robles on the Injured List. Dominic Smith batted .350 while scoring four runs and driving in five. C.J. Abrams drove in a team-high six and leads the Nats with 21 RBI for the season. Josiah Gray tossed seven strong innings in the team’s getaway game win over the San Francisco, while Jake Irvin tossed 6.1 scoreless innings against the Giants for his first Major League win.

Last Week’s Humbled: Irvin came back to earth Sunday, allowing six runs over 4.2 innings for his first Major League loss. Mason Thompson posted an ERA of 20.25, while Thaddeus Ward allowed two runs in two innings over two appearances. Jeimer Candelario hit .100, while Stone Garrett batted .154. Garrett’s numbers are sinking like a stone, as the outfielder is hitting .200 in May after starting the season .308.

Game to Watch: On Tuesday, the Nats begin a series with Miami, a team ripe for the passing (their -56 run differential is 29 runs worse than the Nats’). Starter Josiah Gray has a 2.17 ERA over his last five starts, while the Marlins counter with Jesus Luzardo (3-2, 3.38 ERA) in an intriguing matchup of 25-year-olds.

Game to Miss: On Saturday, Patrick Corbin gets the start in D.C. against the Detroit Tigers at 4:05 p.m. The 35% chance of rain has me concerned after last Saturday’s marathon, while Mage makes its start Saturday at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes. The Black Eyed Susans, breathable fedora and madras jacket call.

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Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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