- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Nationals have spent the majority of this week at the mercy of Mother Nature. As one torrential rain storm after another has passed through the Washington area, they’ve been hamstrung.

Tuesday, it was a question of getting Stephen Strasburg’s start in. Wednesday, they went back and forth with Major League Baseball in attempts to postpone their game with the Los Angeles Dodgers early, with major flooding and rainstorms pounding the region. Keeping up with the weather was becoming exhausting.

“That was the most tired I’ve ever been in a whole day of doing nothing,” manager Davey Johnson said on a rain-soaked Thursday morning at Nationals Park.

It was somewhat fitting, then, that just as the rain began to fall during Game 1 of their afternoon doubleheader, the Nationals‘ hopes for getting out of the opener with a victory faded.

On a wet mound and appearing in just his third game since Aug. 23, Drew Storen imploded. A 4-4 turned into a 7-4 Dodgers lead and, ultimately, the Nationals‘ 12th loss in their past 15 games. Washington (65-76) dropped to a season-worst 11 games under .500.

Their day ended on that note. The second game of the doubleheader, necessitated when Wednesday’s game could not be played, was canceled.

“I’ve had more extreme weather than this,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “But as far as just steady downpours of rain and decisions that you have to make from it, it’s been a pretty active weather season. You’re talking about earthquakes and hurricanes and downpours of rain for days and days at a time.”

As this is the Dodgers‘ final trip to the East Coast, the teams will not make the game up unless absolutely necessary.

The Dodgers‘ magic number for elimination is nine. Should they somehow stage a comeback in the NL West, the game will then need to be played. The Nationals already have been eliminated.

The rainout altered the Nationals‘ rotation. Thursday’s expected starter, Ross Detwiler, will be skipped with left-hander Tom Milone making his scheduled start Friday, John Lannan following on Saturday and Stephen Strasburg, as planned, taking the mound Sunday against the Houston Astros.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, and Storen, the cancellation of the second game meant it’d be longer before they could try and shake off the loss in the opener.

“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses,” Storen said. “I just didn’t get it done. Whether I haven’t pitched in a month, I should go out there and throw strikes. I just didn’t get it done. It’s just one of those days.

Johnson agreed.

“I just think it was one of those outings,” the manager 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.”

That certainly seemed to be the case as he sent a 97 mph fastball into the shoulder of Jerry Sands and buzzed Rod Barajas a few times as well. As Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled to deep center, Sands crossed the plate to seal the Nationals‘ fate. The inning would devolve further with Storen (6-3), who allowed a single and another walk before he was pulled.

The fact that the Nationals didn’t have a hit outside of a four-run third inning didn’t help, even if that inning did feature back-to-back doubles and a two-run homer from the heart of the order.

There were, at least, two bright spots for Washington: Jayson Werth, who hit the two-run homer, and Chien-Ming Wang, who settled down after a rocky beginning to retire 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

“I was really pleased,” Johnson said. “I thought he looked really strong at the end. … He did a good job coming back to give us five strong innings. - As far as I’m concerned it was a good outing.”

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