Major League Baseball calls all the shots when it comes to postseason games. So when the time came this afternoon to decide whether Game 2 of the National League Division Series should proceed as planned, be delayed or postponed, all eyes turned to Rob Manfred, who already was on the premises for a pre-planned appearance at Nationals Park.
The commissioner’s verdict: We’ll see you back here Sunday afternoon.
With rain falling and predicted to continue falling well into the evening, Manfred decided to postpone the second game of this best-of-five series between the Nationals and Dodgers. They’ll now play the game at 1:08 p.m. EDT Sunday, when the sky is supposed to be blue but the temperatures will have dropped into the low 60s and the wind will have kicked up to 20 mph.
“It appears that the rain that we’re seeing right now is going to persist until at least 8 p.m.” Manfred said during a news conference about 45 minutes before the originally scheduled 4:08 p.m. first pitch. “When the weather man gives you something with 100 percent certainty, that’s unusual. But that appears (to be) what we have. Even after 8, it appears that there will at least be mist in the area. And as a result, we’ve decided that we’re going to postpone tonight’s game.”
Roughly 90 minutes later, after both teams, fans, ushers and other personnel had departed the park, the skies had cleared considerably and no rain was falling.
Under typical circumstances during the regular season, when the home club makes the call on delays and postponements until lineup cards are exchanged, more time probably would have been taken before making a decision. The postseason, though, is a different animal.
“We try to make the best decision we can,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Obviously, the impact of these games, these are the one-person decisions. The commissioner himself was in the weather room. He had the final call.”
Sunday was supposed to be a travel day for both teams, who would make the long trip to Los Angeles and then hold a workout at Dodger Stadium. Now the teams will fly west Sunday evening, then be on the field for Game 3 as originally planned at 4:08 p.m. EDT Monday. (If both American League Division Series are completed by Sunday night, the time of NLDS Game 3 would be pushed to 6:08 p.m.)
“We hate to cancel,” Manfred said. “We hate to make travel worse on the players than it was originally intended to be. But it just doesn’t look like we’re going to have a situation that would be safe for the players to play.”
Both Game 2 starters - Tanner Roark for the Nationals, Rich Hill for the Dodgers - will pitch as planned in Sunday’s rescheduled game. Rizzo said the rainout wouldn’t alter the club’s pitching plan for the rest of the series, though it’s worth noting that Roark would no longer be able to appear in a potential Game 5 on Thursday on full rest.
“Nobody wants to cancel the game,” Rizzo said. “Nobody wants to play on a travel day. But that’s the way it is, and it’s the same for both teams. We’ve got to go with it.”
Gio Gonzalez, still slated to start Game 3 in Los Angeles, expects to fly west ahead of the team charter, possibly missing some or all of Game 2.
There was no consideration given to pushing back the rest of the series and ensuring there would still be a travel day as originally planned.
“We’re going to stay with the schedule for the rest of the series,” Manfred said. “We do east-to-west travel like this during the regular season. It’s not ideal, but doable. Doable.”
All tickets and parking passes for today’s originally scheduled Game 2 will be honored for Sunday’s rescheduled game. The Nationals said any tickets or parking passes that were used before the postponement will be reactivated and valid for Sunday’s game. There will be no refunds or exchanges.