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NATS NEED GREAT PLAY TO BEAT FISH, 2-1

[April 15th] -- What's the difference between a win and a loss these days? About two inches.

I was very uncomfortable heading into the bottom of the 9th inning because Chad Cordero was going to try to close out the game for the Nationals. See, this isn't the Chad Cordero of last year, the 47 save version. This is Chad Cordero of this year, who has given up a home run in each of his three outings thus far. I wasn't comfortable after the first out, and I wasn't comfortable after the second out. Then came the two walks. Now I was scared. And when Josh Willingham lined that ball towards right-center field, I was downright apoplectic. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a leaping Brendan Harris snatched the ball out of the air while still at it's apex, and returned to Earth with the Nationals' third win of the season. Had Jose Vidro been playing, the game would have been tied. He is two inches shorter, and not nearly as athletic; the ball would have found it's way to the outfield allowing the tying run to score, and who knows, it was hit hard enough to perhaps reach the wall, allowing the runner at first, running with two out, to make it home with the game's winning run.

Whew.

John Patterson pitched his first "lights out" game of the season, allaying the fears, at least temporarily, that last year was "lighting in the bottle" for the lanky right-hander. He pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits and one run. He struck out thirteen batters, including five in a row early in the game. With the exception of back-to-back doubles in the fifth inning, he was un-hittable. His motion looked much smoother than in his previous starts, and his breaking ball was "falling off the table" as it reached home plate.

Don't get to excited about this win. The offense produced only five hits, enough to win one game in perhaps fifteen. And while Patterson was "lights out," closer Chad Cordero was "light," at least compared to last year's effort. Cordero has to rely on location to get batters out, and he's been throwing too many balls in the middle of the plate this season. Sure, it's great that we won, but we almost didn't.

Two inches, fellow Nat fans. Two inches. That's just too close for comfort.


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