WASHINGTON -- Storm clouds began rolling toward Nationals Park around 2:20 p.m., crept over the stadium by 2:30 and delivered a downpour and rain delay starting at 2:41 p.m. on Sunday.
Players sprinted off the field. Umpires did the same. Grounds crew members began to push the tarp. It barely moved. They pushed more. It barely moved. Soon, they realized a significant problem was in front of them. Rain hammered the playing field while they grappled with the immovable tarp. By the time it was spread out, it was too late. Large puddles formed around second base. The pitcher’s mound was soaked.
Quickly, the inability to roll out the tarp became a social media phenomenon. Time ticked by, the grounds crew scrambled, then 2:06 later, with the sun out and drying agent all over the field, the game between the Orioles and Nationals was suspended.
It will be resumed with one out in the top of the sixth inning on Friday at Camden Yards before the start of a three-game series. The Nationals will perform as the home team. They trail, 5-2.
The game was suspended -- and not called -- because the brief rainstorm did not cause the massive delay. It was the inability to cover the field in a quick manner which made the surface unplayable.
“Couldn’t get the tarp on the field,” Davey Martinez said. “Feel bad for our grounds crew. Personally, these guys, to me, are the best if not one of the best. Unfortunate that that happened.”
Both teams were clustered in the bottom of the stadium for more than two hours in their socially-distanced setup. Nationals bench coach Tim Bogar came out to talk with Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde at one point. Mike Rizzo was eventually involved in a discussion with the umpires and Hyde. Meanwhile, the ground crew scrambled. The tarp was only spread out so it could be properly re-rolled. Next was feverishly raking the field, applying drying agent and seeing if the game could be salvaged. By the time a decision was made, the infield turned a lighter brown under the sun and treatment. And, the whole event was also a national storyline.
What were the players doing in the interim?
“Just watching the show out there,” Stephen Strasburg said. “I don’t know if you can call it a rain delay. I think it was more of a tarp delay. Yeah, pretty interesting. Just add it to the list of 2020.”
Martinez echoed the same sentiment. In a year where nothing has been normal, Sunday’s suspension was another outlandish installment that feels more and more par for the course.
“It’s part of this 2020 season, I mean, it really is,” Martinez said. “There’s going to be days when you don’t know what to expect. This is part of it. So, we just got to keep moving on. At the end of the game, I told the guys, pack up, we’re going to New York. Get ready to play [Monday]. That’s all we can do.”
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