10:51 p.m. ET update: The game between the Yankees and Nationals has been called after five innings due to inclement weather. Final: Yankees 4, Nationals 1.
9:18 p.m. ET update: The Yankees and Nationals are expected to remain in a weather delay for 50-80 minutes as a severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect for Washington D.C., according to ESPN’s Matt Vasgersian. New York was leading 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning when the game went into the delay.
Original story: Mother Nature has dealt a bad hand as Major League Baseball finally begins its 2020 season on Thursday, roughly four months behind schedule. The matchup New York Yankees and Washington Nationals in Washington D.C. — the first regular-season game of the year — was sent into a weather delay in the sixth inning due to thunderstorms in the area. New York led 4-1 at the time of the delay.
The contest between the Nationals and Yankees is one of two games on the docket for tonight, with the Los Angeles Dodgers later playing host to the San Fransico Giants. That game is scheduled to get underway just after 7 p.m. CT at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
The Nationals enter the 2020 season as the defending World Series champions after defeating the Houston Astros in seven games last fall. It was both Washington’s first World Series appearance and first World Series title in franchise history.
The 2020 MLB season has been reduced to just a 60-game schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was originally scheduled to open in late March before the MLB suspended all play during the middle of spring training that same month. Team schedules will now consist of 40 games against division opponents and 20 games against teams from their interleague counterpart divisions (i.e. NL East vs. AL East).
As if a weather delay wasn’t the only unexpected development on Thursday, news also broke in the afternoon that MLB is moving towards an expanded postseason for 2020 only. According to ESPN, the MLBPA agreed to a format that would expand the postseason from 10 teams to 16 teams for the 2020 season, implementing a best-of-three series for the first round. The agreement, which is pending ratification from owners, would see the three division winners and runner-ups from each league receive automatic bids, with the two remaining teams with the best records obtaining the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. The division winner would also choose their first-round opponents in a televised selection show.
Major League Baseball is the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues to return to competitive play since the start of the pandemic in March. The NBA and NHL are set to resume their 2019-2020 regular seasons in the coming weeks, doing so in bubble formats. The NBA bubble is located entirely in Orlando, Florida, while the NHL is splitting its participants between Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta. The NFL, meanwhile, is still on track to kick off its 2020 season as scheduled in September.