Cubs confused by handling of weather issues at Nationals Park


WASHINGTON — The Cubs' 2018 regular season is apparently on track to be bookended by some brutal weather. 

After a slew of snowouts and other weather delays in April, the Cubs now have to contend with a wet weekend in D.C. that has impacted at least two days of the four-game trip and is expected to continue into Sunday, as well.

Friday night was particularly frustrating for the Cubs and Nationals, as first pitch was delayed more than an hour, then both starting pitchers warmed up and began the game only to go back into a rain delay with two outs in the top of the second inning.

Three hours after that, the game was officially postponed to Saturday for a doubleheader, with Friday's inning-plus of action washed away.

"If you'd like the true story, contact MLB," Joe Maddon said before Saturday's doubleheader. "It was kinda confusing to us also. Played when we shouldn't and then did not play when we should have. So I voiced my opinion at the appropriate moment. 

"We wanted to play [Friday]. We wanted two [days of one game]. We waited as long as we did and then the skies were absolutely clear from that moment on. And they said they could not be sure that there would not be another pop-up, which — I'm an amateur meteorologist and I could see it wasn't gonna rain anymore. So it was kinda confusing to us also."

The Cubs are already in the midst of a stretch where they have 23 straight days with a game and really wanted to avoid having to play a doubleheader on top of that. 

But with so much rain hitting the field, the Nationals were not all that interested in risking injury to play Friday night:

While the Cubs were upset to "burn" Lester in the first part of a game that didn't count, the Nationals also had their starter — Joe Ross — making his first MLB start since Tommy John surgery.

"Everything about last night was [tough], but you gotta [mimics throwing motion]. There's the trash can — it's gotta go away," Maddon said. "It was just unfortunate because we made it clear in the beginning that we wanted to wait and play and we were willing to wait and play and then about 10 o'clock, it didn't look good. Then all of a sudden, it started to look better and we had no issues with starting at 11:30."

The good news from the Cubs' end is that their "A" bullpen (Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson, Jesse Chavez) were unable to go Friday due to recent work, but will be available Saturday. 

But it still wasn't an actual day off for the Cubs Friday as guys had to "burn some fuel" to warm up and get loose for a game that never actually got played. Not to mention spending more than a full day's worth of time at the ballpark instead of with their families or at the hotel resting.

As if Saturday wasn't a long enough day already, the start of Game 1 was delayed two hours and 10 minutes, making for a total of more than six hours of delays in a 24-hour span at Nationals Park.

It also leaves only about a 24-hour span for the Cubs and Nationals to play three games between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs will have to fly back to Chicago Sunday night to get ready for an all-important three-game series with the Brewers at Wrigley Field beginning Monday night.

Still, the Cubs woke up Saturday morning 12-5 over this tough stretch with a four-game lead in the division.

"The guys have been great," Maddon said. "I don't want us to take that trip and start thinking in a negative manner. We've been through a rough baseball stretch. We've handled it well; I anticipate we'll continue to handle it well."

The other saving grace is the expanded rosters in September, giving the Cubs a lot more options to help cover innings in Game 1 as well as resting players and ensuring most guys don't have to play both games.

"I think the fact we've been going through all this actually makes this somewhat easier, in a sense," Maddon said. "Because you're not just throwing a wrench in the gears right now.

"The wrench has been thrown in the gears for a bit and we keep grinding through it. So I think we're OK."

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