WASHINGTON — Long after the concourses emptied, the sky cleared up as the tarp still covered the field. Game 2 of the NL Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers still had to wait.
Major League Baseball postponed the Dodgers-Nationals game until Sunday at 1:08 p.m. because it expected the rain that fell throughout the morning and afternoon to continue well into the night.
The teams were scheduled for a 4:08 p.m. first pitch Saturday. But rain that intensified as Hurricane Matthew moved up the coast and a forecast of "100 percent certainty" for precipitation until at least 8 p.m. forced the decision, Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
"We hate to cancel," said Manfred, who arrived Saturday afternoon after a flight from New York. "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."
Rain stopped falling at Nationals Park around 4 p.m., about an hour after the decision was made to postpone the game. Rain was scheduled to resume in the early evening.
LA leads the best-of-five series 1-0 after a 4-3 victory Friday night.
Manfred said he expected the weather to be better Sunday at Nationals Park and hopes to be "in a sunny period." It's supposed to be 61 degrees and windy around game time.
Left-hander Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) will start for the Dodgers against right-hander Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83). Manfred said the rest of the series will proceed as scheduled with Game 3 Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, as the rain wiped out the travel day to the West Coast.
Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy said players came in prepared to play but was glad the decision was made quickly.
"Hats off to Major League Baseball for canceling this early," Murphy said. "I'm sure they didn't want either pitcher to get out there and get caught in a situation where you lose one of them, especially in a short series like this."
The postponement means the teams will have to play and fly Sunday.
"We do East-West travel like this during the regular season," Manfred said. "It's not ideal but doable."
It's expected to be Dodgers righty Kenta Maeda against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez in Game 3. LA manager Dave Roberts said lefty Julio Urias would start Game 4, if necessary, which would leave ace Clayton Kershaw available for a possible Game 5.
STICKING WITH ESPINOSA
Nationals manager Dusty Baker stuck with Danny Espinosa on his initial Game 2 lineup despite the shortstop going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in Game 1. Asked why he continues to play Espinosa, Baker was blunt.
"Well, who else do I have?" Baker said. If "you can give me somebody better, then I can play somebody instead of him. Certain times you have certain people on your team and that's what you've got. Now, my job is to hopefully get the most out of them and make them better."
BLISTERS IN THE SUN
The blister issues Hill has been dealing with make it unlikely he'd be able to come back for a potential Game 5 on short rest, Roberts said. That means the Dodgers won't try to push Kershaw to pitch on short rest in Game 4.
"We've been very cautious up to this point," Roberts said. "That's a variable that is kind of start to start, and we'll see how he is."
Hill wasn't worried about the blisters in wet weather, either, which now won't be a concern.
GONZALEZ GOES WEST
Gonzalez will fly to Los Angeles before the rest of his teammates Sunday to get some extra rest. He struggled during the regular season but hopes to be able to take advantage of the Dodgers' lefty-heavy lineup and wants to go deep into Game 4.
"It's never easy facing that lineup," Gonzalez said. "I would never say, 'Hey, just go out there and pitch.' You definitely have to some have common sense to throw some of these guys. You can't just groove a fastball right down the middle."
AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed.