Published April 19, 2011
ST. LOUIS – The Washington Nationals are off to a nice start, above .500 for the first time in nearly a year. It would mean a little more with a few more games on their record.
After a severe storm postponed Tuesday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nationals were 8-7 with five days off. Three were scheduled and two came by way of rainouts.
"It's too many off days," manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's the thing about scheduled off days, you know you're going to get some rain in April.
"Five or six days of no baseball, it's certainly not ideal but we're making the adjustment to it."
Tornado sirens sounded, rain mixed with hail was coming down in buckets and lightning kept everyone on their toes during Tuesday night's storm. Riggleman did the wise thing while waiting out the lengthy delay, avoiding the dugout.
"I didn't even go out there when it was pouring," Riggleman said. "I guess it was horrendous. Guys were coming in saying they'd never seen anything like it."
A day-night doubleheader was set for Wednesday. It'll be the Nationals' second doubleheader in three days, coming off a sweep of Brewers at home on Sunday.
At 8-7, the Nationals have a winning record for the first time since they were 25-24 on May 28, 2010.
This was the Cardinals' first rainout at home since May 15, 2009, against the Brewers. It's only the sixth rainout in six seasons at Busch Stadium.
"It was rough," Cardinals third baseman David Freese said. "The way the news was portraying the weather, you don't really see that too much. It just kept raining."
"The weather is the weather, that's something you can't control," Westbrook said. "I prepared for my start today and it didn't happen. I'll just do it all over again tomorrow."
Riggleman said he'd alter his lineup for the opener, inserting Ivan Rodriguez at catcher with Wilson Ramos playing in the second game.
"No particular reason for that," Riggleman said. "I might do some other things."
The game was called after a delay of 2 hours and 21 minutes. Based on forecasts, the Cardinals announced 20 minutes before the scheduled first pitch that it would not begin on time.
"Mother Nature, you can hang with it for a while," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Nobody likes playing a day-night doubleheader, but you've got to do it."
Heavy rain reached Busch Stadium about 20 minutes after the scheduled 7:15 p.m. start. Hail came down so hard some small cubes pounded through the roof and into a back aisle of the press box.
Thousands of fans stayed in their seats even after a tornado warning siren sounded, then sprinted up the aisles to relative safety.
NOTES: Washington's starting pitchers have worked at least five innings in every game. ... Washington hasn't committed an error in its last three games, winning all three. ... Lance Berkman is 6 for 13 with two RBIs against Lannan. ... Westbrook has surrendered eight runs in the fifth inning his first three starts. ... The Cardinals are 14-4 against the Nationals at new Busch. ... Albert Pujols batted .429 against Washington last season with two homers and three RBIs.