WASHINGTON -- The Orioles and Nationals had their series finale at Nationals Park suspended on Sunday afternoon after a mishap with the tarp that resulted in a lengthy delay following a rainstorm. The O's were leading 5-2 with one out in the top of sixth inning when a spot shower
WASHINGTON -- The Orioles and Nationals had their series finale at Nationals Park suspended on Sunday afternoon after a mishap with the tarp that resulted in a lengthy delay following a rainstorm. The O's were leading 5-2 with one out in the top of sixth inning when a spot shower drifted over the stadium, delaying the game, which will be resumed on Friday at 5:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards.
It only rained for roughly a half-hour, but the game was paused more than four times that long after Washington’s grounds crew struggled to roll the tarp over the infield when the game was delayed at 2:41 p.m. ET. After the rain stopped and they removed the tarp, they then spent nearly two hours drying the large puddles that had formed at third base, shortstop and other areas of the infield.
“The field was deemed unplayable,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I was unaware of the mechanical part of the rule. Now I know. I’ve never been a part of something like this.”
Even though the game was official at the time of the delay, it must be completed per MLB rule 7.02(a)(3), which states that a game shall be suspended and be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for “Light failure, malfunction of, or unintentional operator error in employing, a mechanical or field device or equipment under the control of the home Club (e.g., a retractable roof, a tarpaulin, or other water removal equipment).”
“I don’t know if you’d call it a rain delay,” Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg said. “I think it was more of a tarp delay.”
The Nationals will serve as the home team for the conclusion of the resumed game. The two teams will then begin a new three-game series 45 minutes after the completion of the suspended game, with the O’s playing as the home team.
The Orioles had won the first two games of this weekend’s series before jumping ahead with five runs off Strasburg in Sunday’s finale. The Nats inched closer before the delay on Starlin Castro’s two-run homer off Shawn Armstrong in the bottom of the fifth.
What this means for the O’s
What a strange roller-coaster week-plus it’s been in Birdland. Over the past 10 days, the Orioles have swept the Rays, been swept by the Marlins and were 12 outs from sweeping the defending champs before the bizarre rain delay on Sunday afternoon. Had the club closed it out, Baltimore would have moved to one game above .500 one-fourth through its 60-game schedule.
So the Orioles will take a 7-7 record into Monday’s off-day and subsequent three-game series in Philadelphia beginning on Tuesday night. The off-day makes it so the suspended game doesn’t immediately affect their pitching plans; Alex Cobb and Wade LeBlanc are still set to start the first two games of that series. The O's should also have regulars José Iglesias, Chris Davis and Pedro Severino (left hand contusion) back in the lineup for Tuesday’s series opener.
All had off Sunday, when the O’s chased Strasburg from his season debut with a five-run rally in the fifth. Their offense came via consecutive RBI hits from Bryan Holaday, Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander, and in support of starter Asher Wojciechowski and three relievers. In the two-plus games this weekend at Nationals Park, the Orioles scored 21 runs in 23 innings.
“Our guys were ready to play, it’s just unfortunate that things happened the way they happened,” Hyde said. “Sometimes you have to deal with some adversity and life throws you some curveballs.”
What this means for the Nats
When the Nationals resume Sunday’s game, they will be in the midst of a 10-day road trip, starting Monday at the Mets. But they view the contest as far from over, still with four innings to come back for a win.
"We are still in the game,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We are down 5-2 in the top of the sixth inning. We will go Friday and try to finish this game and mount a comeback."
• Strasburg has to 'pitch through' nerve issue
One of the biggest questions will be who Martinez sends to the mound. Lefty Sam Freeman had faced three batters, recording an out, when the game was halted. With no days off between contests, the Nats will have to manage their bullpen arms. Will Harris (groin) could be back from the 10-day injured list by then, and Washington hopes to have Sean Doolittle in a rhythm.
“I got to worry about making the decision on pitching, on who I want to bring in,” Martinez said. “We don't know what the rule is yet. I think we might have an extra guy for the second game, which will be nice. So we are waiting to find out what the protocol is for that."
In the meantime, the Nationals will play four games against the Mets before time unfreezes against the Orioles. Then they head to Atlanta for a three-game set.
"We got to focus on tomorrow, obviously, going to play the New York Mets,” Martinez said. “Then we will get to Friday, you kind of pick up where you left off basically. Right now, we are in the top of the sixth, two guys on, one out, and they got [Pat] Valaika hitting.”
Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.