WASHINGTON -- About two hours before the first pitch of National League Division Series Game 2 (LIVE on FS1) on Sunday, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley stood on the field discussing the weather. There was a stiff breeze blowing directly in from home plate, knocking down what fly balls the
WASHINGTON -- About two hours before the first pitch of National League Division Series Game 2 (LIVE on FS1) on Sunday, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley stood on the field discussing the weather. There was a stiff breeze blowing directly in from home plate, knocking down what fly balls the Dodgers served up during batting practice. Utley pointed out to the flags beyond left field, which were unrelentingly flapping.
A day after Major League Baseball postponed Game 2 due to rain, another element -- wind -- became a factor. The National Weather Service measured wind speed at nearby Washington/Reagan National Airport blowing north to south at 29 mph, with gusts up to 38 mph.
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"It definitely plays a factor in [defensive] communication," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So we'll definitely let the infielders and the outfielders know. The wind direction is kind of the factor in who it benefits most, but obviously as a defender, it does influence you a little bit. You have to keep your eye on the ball, and communication is obviously most important."
The National Weather Service did expect wind speeds to reduce throughout the day, dimming to a more modest 11-15 mph by nightfall. But the Nationals and Dodgers still faced the prospect of playing amid wind gusts that ripped through the stadium before first pitch, forcing some fans to huddle under cover. During batting practice, players sought refuge in hooded sweatshirts. Behind glassed-off stadium areas, the wind created an eerie, howling effect.
"Little windy today, kind of swirling some, kind of reminds me of San Francisco some," said Dodgers infielder Charlie Culberson. "Little wind won't hurt. [We'll] try to stick to [the] same approach we've had and try not to let it affect us. You could see in the outfield a little swirling, nothing really out of the ordinary. We look at the flags. It wasn't too much different today."
Dodgers batting practice was optional. The only players from the lineup that participated were Utley and left fielder Andrew Toles. Dave Roberts did give some tips to Toles about playing balls in the wind.
If either team stood to benefit from the conditions, it was the Dodgers, who featured eight left-handed hitters -- everyone but Justin Turner -- in their starting lineup. The Nationals, by contrast, used a lineup with four right-handed regulars, including Trea Turner, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman. Those players faced the prospect of pulling balls directly into the wind.
Both teams relied on home runs about the same amount during the regular season, generating roughly 40 percent of their runs via the long ball.
Of course, when the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday, conditions should normalize: The National Weather Service expects temperatures in the 80s, with negligible wind.
Anthony DiComo has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.