WASHINGTON - Davey Johnson was pleased with at least one element of Saturday's rainout between the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals.
The retirement ceremony planned for the Nationals' manager was scrapped due to the inclement weather, much to Johnson's pleasure, although it's likely he'll have to face the spotlight during Sunday's doubleheader, the final two contests on Washington's home schedule.
After nearly a four-hour delay, the teams will play a day-night doubleheader at 1:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. despite being a travel day for both teams. Tom Koehler and Brian Flynn will start for Miami. Dan Haren starts Game 1 for Washington, while Stephen Strasburg, Saturday's scheduled starter, will pitch in Game 2.
After Pittsburgh's victory over Cincinnati on Saturday, the Nationals will enter the doubleheader 4.5 games off the pace in the chase for the second wild card, leaving Johnson pessimistic about his team's changes.
"They're not that great," he said. "We have to win out and hope someone slips."
Instead of focusing on the Pirates or Reds, Johnson has his sights on St. Louis, whom the Nationals play in a three-game set starting Monday.
"First of all, they swept us here (in April), and they did us no favors last year," Johnson said, referring to the 2012 playoff loss to the Cardinals. "I'd like to get back on an even keel with them. It's a lot more fun when one party has a whole lot riding on it."
On the surface, the Marlins don't appear to have anything to play for, but manager Mike Redmond maintains that each game is another step in the maturation of his young squad.
"We've taken some tough losses," he said. "We've lost a lot of one-run games, a lot of extra inning games, but at the same time, these guys have been able to turn the page and come back and take each day for what it is. They haven't quit and that's a testament to them. We're going to all be better off down the road."
Redmond added this season has been an eye-opening process for him as well, as he's been forced to learn on the fly as a rookie skipper.
"It's been a lot of work," he said. "I had to really pay attention, study and watch video. I feel way more comfortable now than I did in April."