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GameThread: Washington @ St. Louis - 2008 Game 5 of 162.

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The Washington Nationals were 5-1 against St. Louis last season, taking two of three from the Cardinals on the road at Busch II in May and then sweeping St. Louis right out of RFK in three straight that were part of a six-game homestand sweep in August, (against Cincy & St. Louis), that was the longest winning streak of the season and probably the highlight of the Nationals' '07 campaign.

The Nationals didn't run into converted reliever Braden Looper in his first tour of the League as a starter last season, so all of his stats against the DC franchise come from his late-inning days. Looper's taken the hill 58 times, 58.0 IP against the Nationals, with a (3-3) record, 2.64 ERA, 21 saves, 45 K's and 54 hits, 17 ER, 2 HR's and 21 walks allowed. The 33-year old right-hander out of Oklahoma and Wichita State (the mighty Shockers!), started 30 games last season and made just one relief appearance, compiling a (12-12) record and a 4.94 ERA.

"Opening Night" Odalis Perez makes his second start of '08 Friday night in St. Louis, having gone 5.0 against the Atlanta Braves this past Sunday night in DC. Perez recorded no decision in the first appearance, allowing 4 hits, 1 R, 1 HR, and 1 walk while striking out 2 for a 1.80 ERA. In his career against the Cardinals, the thirty-year old rejuvenated and rededicated, "Opening Night" Odalis Perez is (3-4) in 8 starts and 11 games against St. Louis, with 43.2 innings of work, 62 hits allowed, 42 ER, 19 walks, and 12 HR's with 21 K's and an 8.66 ERA...(ed. note - "Wow that just kept getting worse...")

The Cardinals (2-1) took 2 of 3 from the Colorado Rockies in their Season Opening series in St. Louis, while the Nationals (3-1) took Opening Night's one-night stand with the Braves and then took two of three on the road from the Phillies. After these three on the road, Washington heads back to DC, and their new park, for a series with the Marlins that starts on Monday, but before that, Odalis Perez, Matt Chico, and maybe even John Lannan, have got to take care of the Cardinals.

Nationals' NOTES and LINKS:

Why didn't DY play, or even bat yesterday? Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga has some answers in an article entitled, "Young Again Is Hampered By His Back."

MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that, "Cordero could return by Sunday", in an article at the Nationals' official site, which is good news for any fans of the Flat-Brimmed closer, and bad news for fans of the Tallest Closer in MLB History.

Mike O'Connor pitched the Opening Game for the Nationals' Triple-AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, going 5.0 scoreless, and allowing 2 hits, 0 ER, and 2 walks with 4 K's in a 5-1 Clippers win over the Charlotte Knights (White Sox). Larry Broadway was 2 for 4 with a double an RBI and 3 runs scored...Kory Casto, playing right, went 3 for 4 with an RBI. The Clippers will feature Nationals' pitching prospects:

Starters...Collin Balester, Garrett Mock, O'Connor, John Lannan(for now), and Tyler Clippard, as well as relievers Steven Shell, Chris Booker, and "Hollywood" Mike Bacsik, who should all be well worth keeping an eye this season.

(ed. note- "...And starting soon, writer/reporter Matt Barker of "Bell Ringer: The Official Columbus Clippers Baseball Blog" has agreed to keep federalbaseball.com readers up to date on the what's going on down on the farm. Garrett Mock's going today against Charlotte's Tomo Ohka (ed. note- "Remember him?"), according to the Bell Ringer's most recent post, and I'm really looking forward to reading his reports. Coming soon...")

8:15 PM EST in St. Louis...

AND ONE MORE THING...(ed. note - "I'm not usually a real big fan of the intentionals, but after looking at Albert Pujols' #'s against Odalis Perez...

13 for 20...2 doubles, 5 HR's, 15 RBI's, .650 AVG, .741 OBP, 1 K, 7 walks...

...Maybe the Nationals should just walk Pujols until they get to the bullpen.)