WASHINGTON — Aaron Boone called the night “odd.” It was as good a description as any.
The Yankees left Nationals Park late Tuesday night without a win and without a loss.
Their game against the Nationals instead was suspended after 5 1⁄2 innings, the score tied at 3.
It is scheduled to resume at 5:05 p.m. Wednesday, before the regularly scheduled 7:05 start. But here’s the kicker: The weather forecast for Wednesday isn’t all that much better than Tuesday. With Thursday not an option — it’s a mutual day off but the Yankees had trouble securing a hotel Wednesday night and the ballpark has a previously scheduled event Thursday — the Bombers very well may have to return to Washington later in the season to play 1 1⁄2 games.
“Hopefully we get some level of cooperation weather-wise tomorrow and can pull this thing out,” said Boone, whose club next heads to Kansas City for a weekend series. The heavy thunderstorms that created havoc up and down the East Coast arrived in force at 9:01 p.m., delaying the game just before the Nats came to bat in the sixth.
For several innings, lightning flashed in the distance and, before the Yankees batted in the top of the sixth, a sign on the massive scoreboard in right-center warned fans to “take cover under the concourse as severe storms are approaching the area,” something Tyler Austin said was “pretty funny.”
The Yankees, down 3-0 early, by then had tied the score, with the previously slumping Austin playing a significant role. The first baseman came into the game in an 0-for-23 slide but he singled in his first at-bat, hit a two-run homer in his second, in the fourth, and a long sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the fifth to tie it at 3.
“For the most part, everybody knew that there was going to be some bad weather coming but we just didn’t know when it was going to be here,” Austin said. “I don’t think guys were trying to tie the game any more so because of the weather. We were just going out to play.”
Masahiro Tanaka’s Tuesday night ended far better than it started and, as a result, he and Austin had the Yankees in position to win their 20th game in 23 tries.
Tanaka allowed a first-inning homer, then watched the Nats tack on two runs in the second, which put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole against a team that had won 13 of its previous 15 and had standout lefthander Gio Gonzalez and his killer curveball on the mound.
But Tanaka retired his final 11 batters, and he ended up with four hits in five innings, struck out two and did not walk a batter.
The Yankees, an MLB-best 28-12 coming in and with a half-game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East, slowly ground away at Gonzalez. The lefthander, taking the mound 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA this season, frustrated the Yankees early.
But the Yankees made Gonzalez, who allowed three runs (two earned) over five innings, throw 28 pitches in the fourth and 34 in the fifth, ending his night at 111.
“I switched to the stretch position [in the third] and felt like I was able to control the ball better,” Tanaka said through his translator.
Of not leaving the ballpark with a result, Tanaka said with a smile, “It feels weird.”
Another description that works as well as any.