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Field conditions prompt postponement Monday

Nationals to play doubleheader in Philadelphia on Tuesday
September 10, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- From the moment Max Scherzer took his first step on the infield dirt at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, about an hour before the scheduled 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch, he knew the field was unplayable. Shortly after the scheduled start time, a rainout was announced, with

PHILADELPHIA -- From the moment Max Scherzer took his first step on the infield dirt at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, about an hour before the scheduled 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch, he knew the field was unplayable. Shortly after the scheduled start time, a rainout was announced, with the game rescheduled for Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. ET as the start of a traditional doubleheader.
The field at Citizens Bank Park had been left uncovered Friday night, and it was hit with much more rain than the Phillies initially anticipated. Then, it rained all weekend and into Monday afternoon, preventing the grounds crew from fixing the problem.
Before calling the game on Monday, the grounds crew desperately tried to get the field ready in time, bringing out blowtorches with propane tanks in wheelbarrows in an attempt to dry the field. Bryce Harper even grabbed a rake to assist. Still, when Scherzer and Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins -- the player representatives for each team -- stepped on the field, the decision to postpone the game was easy.
"We both looked at each other and said, 'If we started tonight and somebody got hurt, we would both feel pretty guilty about doing that,'" Scherzer said.

Prior to game time, players on both sides crept out of the dugout to test the field conditions, cautiously taking steps on the dirt. Harper mimicked slipping on the field once he touched the infield dirt along the third-base line. Adam Eaton took a few steps and immediately turned around. Front office officials and grounds crew members for both teams conferenced together near the first base for at least an hour leading up to the scheduled start of the game.
"The dirt, it was spongy, it would literally give out," Scherzer said. "And that was just us acting like we were going to run. The moment we put any weight on the ball of your foot, the dirt would just give out."
This cancellation comes after rain soaked and altered the Nats' series against the Cubs at Nationals Park this past weekend. Friday night's game was postponed after two separate rain delays. The ensuing doubleheader on Saturday featured rain delays during each game. And they waited out another three-hour rain delay before Sunday's series finale was postponed until Thursday.
That added up to nearly 11 hours of rain delays.
"The frustrating thing is, we're playing well," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We didn't play yesterday, and we [have to] sit again today. The guys want to play. They do. It's good we didn't stay [at Citizens Bank Park until] 10 o'clock and didn't play. They can go home and get some rest because it's going to be a long day tomorrow, too."
The Nats plan to remain on rotation, with Erick Fedde pitching the first game Tuesday and Tanner Roark starting the second. However, the forecast for Tuesday is foreboding with the threat of rainfall all week. It makes Monday's misfortune -- when the forecast was relatively clear -- even more unfortunate, considering the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the week.
"It's kind of weird, but we all got together, and for the safety of our players, we agreed the field was not playable," Martinez said. "It was a good decision. The field was very soft. I would hate for any player -- our team or their team -- to get hurt in those conditions."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.