Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What A Relief

Last Night, when Chad Cordero trotted out for the bottom of the 9th at Petco Park in San Diego, really, I wanted to know: "Chief" what are you possibly thinking?" And, my question had nothing to do with his early 2007 season struggles. The San Diego Padres have used Cordero as their personal punching bag during their two plus seasons playing against Our Washington Nationals.

The Atlanta Braves my knock Chad all over the park. The Padres have OWNED HIM! Cordero, before last night, held an 0-2 record, two blown saves and an ERA near 15.00 facing them. Two colossal breakdowns against San Diego have resulted in the most demoralizing losses in Nationals History. On September 17th, 2005 leading 5-0 with 2 OUT in the bottom of the 9th inning in this same Petco Park, Manager Frank Robinson started playing his unusual pitching maneuvers. Number 20's odd managing style that left me scratching my head so many times. Acting like Our Nationals were playing in a one run game, Frank skipped through the bullpen, starting with Jason Bergmann for one out, Joey Eischen for another, incredibly Travis Hughes to fuel the fire (The GAME WAS STILL SCORELESS) and a NOT EVEN WARMED UP Chad Cordero to face Khalil Greene, eventually, with the Bases Loaded.

With two weeks still left in the 2005 season, our slumping Nationals were still in the playoff hunt then. At least, until Greene SLAMMED OUT A GRAND SLAM to tie the game. A game Washington eventually lost in 12. A loss that hammered the final nail in the playoff coffin for Washington. Our Nationals were not officially eliminated that night. But, everyone, Players & Fans alike, knew it was so. The worst loss of 2005.

Fast Forward to July 9th, 2006 against these same Padres, this time at RFK Stadium. Our Washington Nationals were WELL AHEAD 9-6, Chad Cordero was called out to finish off the Padres, again. San Diego was waiting, salivating. 5 pitches into the inning, this game was UNBELIEVEABLY TIED. Leadoff Double by Jason Bard, followed by an Adrian Gonzalez Double plating the Padres 7th run. Followed by, you guessed it-a Khalil Greene BLAST into the ChevyFirst.com sign above the leftfield bullpen. Just like that, 9-9. Not a sole remaining in the crowd of 22,000 could believe it. Yet, Frank Robinson left Chad in the game, anyway. Mike Piazza stepped off the Padres Bench to pinch hit for Scott Cassidy. The Future Hall of Famer CLUBBED Number 32's very first pitch into the Upper Deck, Section 446. A NO DOUBTER. 10-9 San Diego. This game WAS OVER, as devastatingly as the previous encounter in September, 2005 at Petco Park.

Until Our Washington Nationals Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory so Painfully this past Saturday Night against The METS, I had never left RFK Stadium after ANY GAME so down. That July, 2006 Padres Loss hurt, alot.

Which made last nights moment with Chad so compelling. The REAL TIME back on the east coast was approaching 1 am. If I was going to get any sleep last night, "The Chief" needed to save this one, painlessly. And, with both his parents in the stands, he might not admit it, but Cordero was feeling the pressure. There is NO WAY he wants San Diego to beat him again. Every team needs to fear your Stopper. Another bad outing, might cost Chad dearly. Fortunately for us, Khalil Greene was not a scheduled hitter. Jon Rauch had retired him to end the 8th inning.

AS the bottom of the 9th began, The Most Thrilling Closer in Baseball went with fastball after fastball, letting EVERYONE just try to hit him. And, Mike Cameron & Kevin Kouzmanoff did so, right to Ryan Church in Centerfield. With two outs, you could clearly see Number 32 thinking to himself out on the mound. One out to go. One out to win. One out to throw out the bad karma.

Finally, Chad Cordero would rare back, toss the ball, regaining a small bit of of redemption in the process, and definitely earning some new found respect--getting Oscar Robles to fly to the wall in right. Austin Kearns hauling in the ball to finish this game. Our Closer's first career save against The San Diego Padres.

What A RELIEF!! Sometimes you have to face your WORST FEARS to recover. Chad Cordero needs to rebuild his confidence. His FEARLESSNESS from 2005. No better way to recoup than by throwing some of your worst skeletons out of the closet. The San Diego Padres fully qualify for those honors. Last night may well be just one game in whole scheme of the season. But, for Chad Cordero last night may have been a MUCH NEEDED MOMENT to revamp his season, straighten out his career.

Happily, I went to bed, at 2AM--at least for about three hours, until I had to get up and go to work. Start the cycle over again. Shawn Hill tonight, again against The Padres in San Diego. I don't want to miss his outing, either.

PS--By the way:
Our Washington Nationals Record before playing on May 1, 2007 9-17
Our Washington Nationals Record before playing on May 1, 2006 8-17
Our Washington Nationals Record before playing on May 1, 2005 13-11

Despite the gloom and doom, we are on pace with last season's record, amazingly. And, if Our Washington Nationals win tonight, they are 9-9 since their horrendous 1-8 start to the 2007 Season. That's progress.

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