Nationals delay start of game after quake

The Washington Nationals pushed back the start of their game

against the Arizona Diamondbacks by 20 minutes Tuesday night

because of the earthquake that rattled the East Coast.

The team had delayed opening the gates to check the stadium for

damage before letting fans in. The gates weren’t opened until 6:40

p.m., 25 minutes before the scheduled start and more than two hours

after they were supposed to open.

The first pitch was at 7:26 p.m.

Several Washington players and coaches were at Nationals Park

when the magnitude-5.8 quake struck.

”I had my feet up on my desk and I was watching highlights of

yesterday’s games,” manager Davey Johnson said. ”I looked down

and my arms started shaking. I said, `Am I having a tremor here?’

And then the table next to me started shaking and I said, `Oh,

earthquake.”’

The Nationals announced that fans who did not use their tickets

could exchange them for any remaining game this season.

Parts of the White House, Capitol and Pentagon were evacuated

after the quake, and heavy traffic around the city delayed the

Diamondbacks’ bus as it made its way to the park from the team

hotel in Northern Virginia. The bus arrived at the stadium around

5:15 p.m., about 45 minutes later than expected. Even before the

quake, manager Kirk Gibson had told the team not to take pregame

batting practice in an attempt to end a six-game losing streak.

”We wanted to show up and go, so this is really show and go,”

Gibson said.

Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa, who grew up in Southern

California, rode out the quake in the team’s clubhouse.

”I just sat here,” he said. ”It wasn’t that big of an

earthquake. It didn’t hit too hard. Nothing fell off the

walls.”

Washington’s All-Star reliever, Tyler Clippard, was at home and

didn’t stay as cool as Espinosa.

”My couch started shaking and I didn’t know what was going

on,” Clippard said. ”It was kind of a helpless feeling.”