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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Milwaukee Brewers- 2008 Game 117 of 162.

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On The Hill...

DC righty Tim Redding's faced Milwaukee 16 times in his 7-year MLB career, with 12 starts and 67.0 innings on the mound against the Brewers, over which he's allowed 77 hits, 36 ER's, 11 HR's and 27 walks, collected 63 K's and posted a 4.84 ERA. Redding pitched against the Brewers back in late May when Milwaukee visited the nation's capital, receiving no decision in a 7-6 Nationals' win, and giving up 10 hits and 5 ER's in 5.2 innings pitched.

(2-3) in his last 5 outings, Redding's been hit hard in those starts for 36 hits and 18 ER's over 27.0 innings pitched, as he's watched his ERA balloon to a season-high 4.44. (8-6) overall in '08, Redding leads the Nationals in wins, and he's got a (4-2) record in 11 road starts with a 4.06 ERA outside Nationals Park, holding opponents to a .244 BAA away from DC as opposed to a 4.79 ERA and .298 BAA at home.

Brewers' right-hander Ben Sheets (10-4, 3.14 ERA) has won 6 of 10 '08 wins in his 14 starts on the road, and in Miller Park, where Sheets faces the Nationals tonight, the 29-year-old righty is (4-2) with a higher ERA (3.52 at Home to 2.69 while Away), higher WHIP (1.30 to 1.13) and higher BAA (.280 to .231) in almost 40.0 less innings pitched, (54.0 to 92.1).

Against Washington/Montreal in his 8-year MLB career, Sheets is (2-3) in 8 starts with a 4.21 ERA in 51.1 innings pitched, having surrendered 59 hits, 24 ER's, 6 HR's and 9 walks, with 37 K's, a 1.32 WHIP and a .282 BAA. Sheets is (4-4) in his last 10 starts this season, but just (1-4) over his last 7, and he hasn't recorded a win since July 4th in Pittsburgh, dropping 3 of his last 5 while the Brewers have gone (2-3) with Sheets on the mound since July 9th.

Sheets last faced the Nationals on May 26th of this season, allowing 1 HR, 2 ER's, and 7 hits, with 6 K's in 6.0 innings of a 4-3 Brewers' win in which he received no decision...

Nationals' #'s Against Sheets...

Cristian Guzman - 3 for 17, .176 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.

Ronnie Bellliard - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.

Willie Harris - 3 for 7, .429 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's, 1 SB.

Tim Redding - 1 for 3, .333 AVG.

Who's Hit Redding Hard?...

Ryan Braun - 2 for 2, 1.000 AVG, 1 2B.

Craig Counsell - 7 for 20, .350 AVG, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI's, 3 BB's, 1 SB.

Prince Fielder - 3 for 6, .500 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBI's.

Jason Kendall - 7 for 16, .438 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBI's.

The Double Play That Wasn't...

Ryan Zimmerman appeared to make a double play in the bottom of the first last night, tagging Rickie Weeks in the basepath near third and throwing to first in time to get Ryan Braun...But the Ump didn't see the tag, allowing Weeks to take third, and score on a two-out single from Prince Fielder in the next at bat. Zimmerman's take on the play, as he explained to MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Nationals run into tough Sabathia", after last night's game:

"'I thought I tagged him,' Zimmerman said. 'I obviously continued to throw the ball to first like I tagged him. He was right there, but I'm not going to comment on what the umpire thinks. He thought he was safe and I thought I got him. He was out from me to you. It was hard to miss him.'"

Elsewhere in the article, Mr. Ladson has quotes about facing CC Sabathia from DC Manager Manny Acta, Cristian Guzman, Willie Harris and Austin Kearns, all of whom break down the Milwaukee starter's arsenal and describe the experience of facing the Brewers' big, hard-hitting left-hander.

Update on MLB's "Bonus Skimming" investigation...

Yahoosports.com writer Tim Brown's article entitled, "MLB takes steps to stop bonus skimming", doesn't make mention of any current members of the Nationals' organization, but it does tell the story of one of the best players in the franchise's history, Vladimir Guerrero, and his experiences upon being signed to his first professional contract by the Montreal Expos as a 17-year-old off of the family's farm in Bani, in the Dominican Republic.

The major step that Major League Baseball has taken is to bypass the so-called, "Buscones", who are considered "talent scouts" and liasons between unsigned players and the MLB agents who come calling on the DR's talent pool, opting instead to entrust the players' often life-changing signing bonuses to a Dominican bank that will act as a custodian, or guardian of the individual players' accounts.

When Montreal signed Guerrero, Mr. Brown writes, Guerrero's:

"... decision, of course, was simple.

The Montreal Expos would pay him $201,000, he said, to sign with them. And Guerrero would leave behind the steer and the chores and the poverty.

The Expos paid him by check and made him rich, certainly by Bani standards. Only he didn’t have a bank account and neither did his parents.

In fact, he laughed at the very idea of it. Bank accounts, after all, were for people with money."

The money was instead given to the buscone, who was entrusted with assuring that the players and their families actually received the payments, a situation that just begged for all sorts of misdeeds, or as one unnamed American League scout describes it to Mr. Brown:

"'There was a bit of a wild, wild West thing going on down there,' and players such as Guerrero, along with many prospects before and since Guerrero, had learned to live with the injustices, perhaps as much a part of the Dominican game as batting practice and infield drills."

What if any action will be taken against anyone who's caught up in MLB's investigation has not yet been determined, but Mr. Brown's article really lays out what's known thus far...

Game 2 of 4 in Milwaukee gets underway at 7:05 pm EST in Miller Park. Redding vs Sheets. The Brew Crew vs the Nats. Who's Watching the Nationals?