Braves-Nationals game delayed for three hours despite minimal rain, Nationals apologize

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals told their fans to expect water Thursday night, and after three hours of waiting under storm-less skies, they finally delivered.

By Friday morning, the team had issued an apology for making fans sit around in the mostly dry conditions without baseball.

The Nationals delayed their series opener against the Atlanta Braves for 3 hours, 5 minutes, despite negligible rain, citing weather forecasts that seemed to promise more.

"We are extremely sorry for delaying the start of yesterday's game and the inconvenience this caused our fans," the Nationals said in a statement on Friday. "We know you came to see a game, and we hate that we made you wait -- understanding some of you had to leave before we even got started. We appreciate everyone's patience and support."

The team said it expected worse conditions.

"We monitor the weather very closely via a weather service, along with Major League Baseball. Our decisions on any weather-related issues are made in conjunction with Major League Baseball, opposing teams, umpires and the players union. Last night's decision was obviously very difficult. We could see weather heading our way and wanted to be proactive, but the timing of its arrival kept shifting."

As a reward for fans who stuck around, Washington gave away free soda, ice cream, and yes, water.

Atlanta beat Washington 5-2 when play resumed. The game ended at 1:20 a.m.

"For 15 minutes of rain, that's unbelievable,'' Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said. "I'm talking to you at 1:30 in the morning right now for a 15-minute delay.''

The Nationals' scheduled game Wednesday night against the New York Mets was postponed amid a downpour, but only a very brief shower hit Nationals Park on Thursday before the first pitch was thrown at 10:10 p.m.

"That's a first for me,'' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Kind of frustrating.''

The grounds crew didn't put the tarp on the infield until 74 minutes after scheduled first pitch. Light rain eventually fell, but only for a couple of minutes.

After the delay reached 2½ hours, the Nationals posted a statement on the video scoreboard saying, "It is our sincere hope that we will be able to play tonight's game. The weather system that we have been monitoring is beginning to reach the ballpark & should pass through shortly. ... Thank you for your patience."

Despite the warning, the grounds crew removed the dry tarp 10 minutes later, and players began warming up in the outfield.

Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte posted a couple of tweets expressing amusement at the "no-rain delay."

Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz and Gonzalez pitched as scheduled with a smattering of fans remaining.

"It was a weird night, but we got through it with a win and that's all we can do,'' Foltynewicz said.