WASHINGTON (AP) — The Big Unit was held up by Mother Nature, putting history on hold.
Randy Johnson's bid for 300 wins was postponed Wednesday night after a series of thunderstorms left the field at Nationals Park unplayable for Johnson's San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals.
At 10:47 p.m. EDT — more than 3 1/2 hours after the scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch — Nationals president Stan Kasten announced that the game had been called and would be made up as part of a doubleheader, starting at 4:35 p.m. on Thursday.
"The field is not playable, and that's the reason we can't play," Kasten said after sloshing through masses of standing water in the outfield with the umpires. "We really tried. We were all trying to get it done, but at the end of the night, it's not worth the risk to our players."
Johnson will pitch the first game of the doubleheader against Nationals rookie Jordan Zimmermann, the same matchup that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. San Francisco's Matt Cain will face Ross Detwiler in Game 2.
Because of two Giants off days, Johnson will be pitching on seven days of rest since winning No. 299 last week against the Atlanta Braves. He left the ballpark without speaking to reporters.
"You look at his career, and he's been through everything," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "Randy's fine. I'm sure he's anxious to pitch, not just because it's 300."
The weather was ominous from mid-afternoon, when the tarp was placed on the field before batting practice. It was removed during a break in the storms around 8 p.m., but it was soon put back on when weather radar accurately predicted the imminent arrival of another line of lightning, thunder and rain so dense that the Capitol dome was no longer visible from the upper deck.
Still, Kasten consulted with Giants president Larry Baer and announced at 10 p.m.: "We are going to play this game" — in part because of the history at stake. They had to recant less than an hour later.
"For a player going for a milestone, you want something more optimal," Baer said. "We can recapture that feeling tomorrow. Under no circumstances do you want to get someone hurt."
Johnson is attempting to become the 24th pitcher to win 300 games. Before the storms hit, discussions centered on whether the 45-year-old lefty will be the last. Pitch counts, quick hooks and an overall abundance of caution with pitchers have made consistent big-win seasons a rarity.
"He's going after a tremendous accomplishment that probably we'll never see again," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "It's becoming tougher and tougher."
Only four pitchers have averaged at least 15 wins over the last six full seasons, and the career leader among those four — Roy Halladay — has only 140 wins at age 32, putting him about a decade away from 300 at his present pace. The only contenders above 200 wins are 46-year-old Jamie Moyer (250), 36-year-old Andy Pettitte (220), 37-year-old Pedro Martinez (214) and 42-year-old John Smoltz (210).
"I think we'll see it again. It'll be a while," Bochy said. "Of course, there's Moyer. He can pitch until he's 50, I guess. The way bullpens have evolved in baseball, it makes it more difficult for these starters to get the decisions. They're not in there when the game's decided. Randy, if you look at his decisions, and the guys who have won 300, that's one common denominator that they have. That's why it's going to be a lot more difficult."
by the associated press