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GameThread: Florida at Washington- 2008 Game 8 of 162.

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ON THE HILL - Tuesday night, Washington righty Tim Redding and Florida lefty Andrew Miller meet on the mound in Nationals Park, Washington, DC, as the Nationals welcome the Marlins to the first of a three game series on a six-game homestand, which will be Washington's first extended stay in the new stadium.

The Nationals have lost four straight, and, in fact, their last win came last week on Wednesday in Tim Redding's first start of the season in which he one-hit the Philadelphia Phillies over 7.0 IP, while walking 3 and K'ing 2, before handing the ball to Luis "Set-Up" Ayala and the Tallest Closer in MLB History Jon Rauch, who combined with Redding on the one-hit, 1-0 shutout win over the Phillies.

In his career against Florida, Redding is (3-0) in 5 starts, allowing 26 hits, 8 runs, 6 earned, 8 walks and 3 HR's while striking out 13 in 27.0 IP for a 2.00 ERA against the Marlins. In his last start against the franchise, on September 5, 2007, Redding completed just 2.1 IP, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs, before injuring his elbow on a play in the infield and leaving the game.

Tim Redding's opponent on the hill, Andrew Miller has never faced the Nationals, having spent his first two MLB seasons with Detroit in the American League, but his inclusion in the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis out of town, instantly inserts the 22-year old 6'6'', 175 left-hander at the forefront of yet another, and hopefully with a new park finally promised, last major rebuilding of the Marlins.

Drafted 6th overall in 2006 by the Tigers after going (27-9) in 3 seasons in college at North Carolina, Miller made his Major League debut on August 30th of the same as his selection, appearing in a relief role and going (0-1) with a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 IP. In 2007, Miller was (5-5) in 13 starts for the Tigers, and he put up a 5.63 ERA in 64.0 inning pitched.

Miller's first start this season was a tough one, in a 13-0 loss to the New York Mets, during which he gave up 8 hits, 5 ER, 2 walks and 1 HR, while striking out 6 in 4.1 IP, with Miller himself telling writer Joe Frisaro in an article entitled, "Short start dooms Marlins in finale":

"'That was a pretty poor effort on my part,' Miller said. 'That's a pretty bad start, not what I wanted to do. I left a lot of pitches up, a lot of pitches over the plate.'"

Though Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez was less critical of Miller than he was of himself, telling Mr. Frisaro, later in the same article:

"'We're going to have to have patience,' Gonzalez said, pointing out that Miller excelled five days ago in a Spring Training start against the Yankees. 'We'll see it again in his next start.'"

Nationals Manager Manny Acta, on the other, had nothing but praise for Redding after his first start, with Mr. Acta telling's Bill Ladson, as quoted in an article entitled, "Redding stifles Phils in shutout victory":

"'It was tremendous. It was a great outing,' manager Manny Acta said. 'He had a good fastball. He kept it down on the knees. He was able to throw his pitches for strikes all night.'"

The Nationals are (3-4) after seven, the Marlins (3-3) started '08 by lossing two of three games at home to the NY Mets, and then followed up by winning two of a three game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The #'s - Hanley Ramirez is batting .400 so far, 8 of 20, with 1 triple, 1 HR, and 2 RBI's, and Josh Willingham and Mike Jacobs each have to HR's, with Willingham collecting 4 RBI's and Jacobs 5. Nick Johnson's leading the Nationals with a .304 AVG, and he's tied for second with Austin Kearns with 4, behind only Ronnie Belliard's 5 RBI's.

Ryan Zimmerman was 6 for 13 this weekend in St. Louis, to raise his average to .290 early in the season. In Zimmerman's career against Florida, he's hitting .316 in 42 games, with 50 hits in 158 at bats, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR's, 26 RBI's, 26 walks, and 26 K's. Nick Johnson has 5 HR's and 27 RBI's in 37 games against the Marlins. Paul Lo Duca played for the Marlins and has hit .347 against them. Cristian Guzman, .350 AVG against Florida. Belliard .294. Lastings Milledge? .314 AVG, 2 HR's, 7 RBI's in 14 games vs. the Marlins...

A shaky, young, often brilliant, starter in Andrew Miller...a team full of Nationals who rake against Florida...sounds like the right combination to break the four game slide...Washington welcomes Florida at 7:05 EST...I'll be watching it archived around 10:00ish...