New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, center, stands in the...

New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, center, stands in the dugout as rain falls during the second inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — The Mets, Nationals and thousands of fans sat through a rain delay of nearly four hours Saturday before the teams and MLB decided to suspend the game.

They will make it up in what amounts to a doubleheader Sunday. The first game will resume at 12:35 p.m. with the Nationals leading 1-0, one out in the top of the third and the Mets’ Brandon Nimmo due up with runners on second and third. The regularly scheduled game is set for 4:35 p.m.

Max Scherzer will start the latter game, as planned, manager Buck Showalter said. The Mets hadn’t decided on pitching plans for the last seven innings of the first game. Both clubs will be allowed a 27th man for the second contest.

By the time they decided not to play, the issue wasn’t so much the rain, which had long since stopped, but the condition of the field. It poured for a couple of innings before the tarp came out and the playing surface was unable to recover.

“Everybody wanted to play,” Showalter said, angry but polite. “What are you going to do? The weather doesn’t cooperate. The field is unplayable. Get ready and play two tomorrow.”

After a light rain, at most, in the hours before the game, the precipitation became heavier about 10 minutes before first pitch, with the radar suggesting that would last for a while.

The Nationals, who as the home team were responsible for the pregame call, decided to start the game anyway.

“They told us to play and we played,” Showalter said.

Once the game started, it was in the umpires’ hands. The teams played through a steady rain — with the grounds crew coming out between and sometimes during innings to try to fix up the infield and mound — into the third inning.

The conditions “became a safety issue,” Showalter said.

Mets starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi allowed one run in two innings and seemed to have trouble gripping the baseball. Pete Alonso also slipped at least once, according to Showalter. The infield had lots of puddles.

“They kept getting a report that it was going to stop,” Showalter said.

After catcher Michael Perez doubled and Daniel Vogelbach advanced to third base in the top of the third inning, the umpires called for the tarp.

That was at 4:43 p.m.

For almost the next four hours, the Nationals communicated nothing to the public. The rain stopped at about 7 p.m., and the grounds crew removed the tarp and started working on the field. Showalter and Nationals manager Dave Martinez checked out the infield conditions on multiple occasions and seemed concerned about the state of the field.

Near the end of the delay, with a pretty sunset over nearby Capitol Hill and D.C. United playing its MLS game across the street, remaining fans began to chant, “Let’s go, baseball.” They also booed when a lone member of the grounds crew came out to rake the infield dirt.

At 8:39 p.m., the Nationals announced to the crowd that the game officially was suspended.

“Whether it’s MLB, whether it’s the umpiring crew, we’re together on it,” Showalter said. “We tried.”

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