Photo: Rich Schultz (Getty)

Monday night’s scheduled Nationals-Phillies game was postponed when the Philadelphia grounds crew couldn’t get the field ready for play, despite there being no significant rain at game-time. The issue, it turns out, came down to heavier than expected rain over the weekend, or possibly a miscalculation by the groundskeeping crew:

According to Phillies executive Howard Smith, it was the result of a bad forecast on Friday that produced far more rain than expected. With the team on the road, the infield was left uncovered.

“The field wasn’t tarped on Friday night, because we were supposed to get a small amount of rain,” Smith told reporters this afternoon. “If you tarp the field 24 hours a day, the field will turn brown and it will die. It’s an on-and-off situation. We didn’t tarp it Friday night. In retrospect, had I known it was going to be this much rain, we would’ve tarped it. But we didn’t. The damage was done, and we’re just playing catch up.”

The Phillies played a three-game series in New York over the weekend, so the decision to leave the field uncovered Friday was basically locked into place Saturday and Sunday while the entire mid-Atlantic region got drenched. The tarps were eventually rolled out due to early rain on Monday, but the damage was already done, and the infield was a soggy mess when players showed up this afternoon. Every effort was made to dry the infield dirt, and when I say “every effort,” boy do I mean every effort. They busted out the flamethrowers!

Photo: Matt Slocum (AP)

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The theory, according to Smith, is to blast the top layer of dirt dry—again, with a bitchin’ flamethrower—then turn the dirt, and then blast it again. And it sort of looked like it was working:

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But all that blasting and turning ultimately still left the field “spongy,” according to Max Scherzer, and the decision was made to postpone the game. The Nationals have now had three of their past five games postponed by either active rain or rain’s aftereffects, and oh by the way a Category 4 hurricane is expected to dump historic amounts of rain on the mid-Atlantic later in the week. Tonight’s non-rain “wet grounds” postponement is a rarity in recent baseball history:

Hard to accept that the Phillies have flamethrowers hanging around their stadium and they aren’t using them for spectacular bank robberies or whatever.