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NO JOY IN MUDVILLE

[August 25th] -- I'm not exactly sure what to say. A few times every year, the Nationals are going overcome a big deficit in the 9th inning and win, and a few times every year, the Nationals are going to give up a big lead and lose.

Man, losing those games suck.

I don't want to dwell on the negative too much. Shawn Hill, after all, has removed any concern about him reverting back to the guy who got batted around pretty good last year. Hill's seven innings were near perfect -- he allowed just four hits and no walks while striking out five. Even the run he allowed was barely earned. I watched the Rockies' game feed and George Frazier gushed with superlatives for the Nationals' starter. He was nearly unhittable; virtually every hitter seemed to be in an 0-2 hole before they ever took the bat off their shoulder.

How good has he been? In 70 innings, Hill has given up just 49 hits. He's struck out 49 while walking only 17. He's allowing opponents a .192 batting average against and lowered his ERA to just 2.31.

That's how good he's been.

Notice how I'm avoiding what happened?

Ryan Zimmerman continues to put distance between himself and that awful (for him) start to the season. The 22 year old third-baseman went 3-4 with a homer and 3 RBI's; he's now hitting .275-20-75. A good September could allow him to reach 25 homers and 95-100 RBI's.

Nook Logan went 0-5 but looked like a gold-glove winner in the outfield. The Rockies' announcers were very very impressed with his defense.

Wily Mo got 2 more hits and hit his 2nd homer - a powerful opposite field shot. He continues to impress.

Okay, I can't avoid it any more. Let's talk about Chad Cordero. The "Chief" gave up five runs and four hits while never retiring a batter. His ERA - after giving up 7 runs the last two games - is now 3.39.

I think that Mr. Cordero is not a major league closer. He is, however, a good setup man. The great relievers have one outstanding pitch, like Goose Gossage's fastball or Trevor Hoffman's sinker. Cordero has none of those. What he does have is very good location. And when he does locate his pitches, then he's every bit as good as those other guys. When he doesn't, however, he can't get anyone out because his stuff just isn't good enough. Average stuff plus excellent location equals success. But Chad's location has become hit-and-miss. I love the guy, but I don't think he should remain as the closer when the team begins to contend. I guess the other teams knew something I didn't when any trade talks that included Cordero were always for him to be a set-up man for the other team.

That said, I feel bad for Chad Cordero. Very bad. But you know what? I feel even worse for Shawn Hill.


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