The Washington Times - September 8, 2011, 06:27PM

The second game of today’s straight doubleheader is currently in a delay with an unknown start time. The tarp is on the field and there are no signs of the current rainstorm letting up.

What we know is this: this is a relatively meaningless late-season contest between two teams who are out of the playoff race and would possibly only impact their standing for the 2012 draft. We know that the Dodgers are scheduled to play in San Francisco Friday night and have a flight to the west coast waiting at their behest to make that lengthy trip.


What we don’t know is how long the teams will wait out this most recent band of storms in order to get this game in. Stay tuned here, or follow me on twitter @acomak for updates.

– Chien-Ming Wang gave up four earned runs for the second straight start and lost. Wang, however, settled in nicely after the third inning and retired 10 of the final 11 batters that he faced in six innings of work.

It’s become a recurring issue for Wang, though, that he gets roughed up early and calms down late — sometimes too late for the Nationals usually anemic offense to recover. In the first inning this season, Wang has allowed nine earned runs off of 16 hits and six walks, it all adds up to a 12.38 ERA in that frame alone in his eight starts.

In innings two, three and four combined, that number is a miniscule 2.03.

Part of the problem is the fact that Wang takes longer now than he did before his injury to warm up. He already throws between 50 and 60 pitches in the bullpen during his pre-game warmup. Before, when he was a 19-game winner with the New York Yankees, that number used to be down to 40. Still, he knows that it’s one area of his game that still needs improving.

“I’m going to try to get warmed up earlier and get myself in game situations earlier,” Wang said Thursday through translator John Hsu.

– Jayson Werth hit his 19th home run on Thursday, a two-run shot to left field that tied the game for the Nationals. If the wind wasn’t blowing straight out to left, Werth may have had two others sending two deep to right field as well, including one that may have actually hit the out of town scoreboard before Juan Rivera caught it — but was ruled to be an out.

Werth finished last season with 27 home runs, so there’s a pretty good chance that he’s not going to touch that mark this season unless he goes on a serious tear. But for him to have 20, the way this season has gone for him at the plate, would be pretty remarkable. No, it won’t make up for the .230 batting average or the 139 strikeouts that put him on pace for roughly 168, what would be a career high, by season’s end. But it would help him salvage his season — which he’s basically been doing since the second half began, anyway.

Consider these splits: First half - .215 AVG, .319 OBP, .362 SLG; Second half - .257 AVG, .361 OBP, .449 SLG.

It’s not what the Nationals are paying him for, completely, but it’s a lot closer to what they were expecting and a good start to make sure that Year Two of the Jayson Werth era gets off on a better foot at the plate.

– Drew Storen took the loss in the afternoon game on Thursday, allowing three earned runs for just the fourth time in 62 appearances this season. Storen struggled with his control, hitting the second batter he faced and buzzing Rod Barajas a few times. It was just the third time Storen has been called upon since August 23, and his last three outings have been on five, six and now three days of rest.

The Nationals aren’t winning (they’re 3-12 in their last 15 games) so Storen hasn’t been used very much — an unfortunate coincidence for Storen because it forces him to wait an extended period before getting back on the mound after an outing such as the one he had on Thursday.

“I just think it was one of those outings,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “He hasn’t had a whole lot of regular work here in the last part of the year, we haven’t had a whole bunch of leads so his work is spotty. Sometimes that can cause a little command problems.”