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Game Thread: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals- 2008 Game 26 of 162.

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On the Hill...

The Washington Nationals winning streak ended at two...(is that a streak even?) ...with last night's 7-0 loss to Chicago, but since they were able to win Friday's game they can actually win this series, and claim their second series of the season, their first since taking two of three from Philly in the Opening week.

The Nationals turn to "Cool Hand" John Lannan, who has allowed just one run in his last 13 innings on the mound, while striking out 15, walking three and giving up just 8 hits in his two previous starts against New York and Atlanta. Lannan's (1-2) with a 3.42 ERA and 21 K's in 4 starts and 23.2 total innings, and this will the first time the Cubs see the Nationals' 23-year old lefty...(Though they seemed to enjoy hitting off DC's 24-year old left yesterday.)

The good news for the Nationals' offense, is that Chicago's starter, 32-year old lefty Ted Lilly, has struggled so far this season, posting a 7.30 ERA with a (1-3) record, as the Cubs lost three of his first four starts, but the bad news is that Lilly's lone win was in his last start against New York, and he pitched 6.0 innings, allowing only 4 hits and 1 run in a game the Cubs won easily 8-1. Lilly's (3-2) in 6 starts against Washington with a 2.06 ERA and 37 K's in 35.0 innings pitched against the Nationals in his career.

Flat-Brimmed Closer Watch...

Chad Cordero's curve was coming in around 72-74 mph last night, and The Flat-Brimmed Closer's fastball barely got to the mid-80's, mostly 81-83 according to the radar in Nationals Park...and yet...after a scoreless inning of work, Cordero's now unscored upon in 4.0 innings pitched, in which he's allowed 4 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5...The Cubs sure couldn't seem to figure Cordero out, as he struck out 2 of the 4 batters he faced...and his aim was still true...Who knows?

Is Chico Staying In the Rotation?

If you read Nationals' Manager Manny Acta's words in Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga's article, "Chico, Nats Struggling To Get the Job Done", you'd have to wonder if Chico might be headed down to Columbus to regain some confidence, as Mr. Acta is quoted stating:

"We don't know," Manager Manny Acta said when asked how long he would stick with Chico. "We don't know yet. It's five more months of baseball. I'm not saying I might stick [with him] if he continues to pitch like this. It's only been a month. If we were going to take a month on guys that are struggling here, then there would be a lot of guys out of here by now."

(ed. note - "Manny Acta's gonna do just fine in Washington, DC.")

Mr. Svrluga's possibilities for a replacement in the rotation, should Chico be sent down...Jason Bergmann (still struggling in Columbus), Mike O'Connor (just called up to DC), "...and then...", Mr. Svrluga writes:

"...there's perhaps the most intriguing option. Right-hander Collin Balester is the Nationals' top-ranked pitching prospect, a lanky 21-year-old who is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA at Columbus."

DY Update...

"I'm not pushing it," Young said yesterday. "I'm not going out there till I'm 100 percent."

-Dmitri Young in Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga's article entitled, "Tough Roster Decisions Await Act".

"'I'm not rushing it. I'm not going to go out there until I'm 100 percent. Plain and simple,' Young said. 'It is getting better, but I'm not going to do some jumping jacks or sprints or anything like that.'"

- Dmitri Young in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Dukes sees action for Potomac, Young's back improving".

Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...

Some Cubs' fans in DC for the weekend are regular commenters on the SB Nation's Cubs' blog, www.bleedcubbieblue.com from the game in Nationals Park...Now, you, the Nationals' fan can boo them online too...

The Sunday Matinee...1:35 pm EST