By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Things would have to fall in place perfectly, but Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero has a chance to tie the major league record for saves in a month this week.
Cordero, who leads the majors with 25 saves, has converted all 12 opportunities in June. The record for any month is 15 saves, set by Lee Smith of St. Louis in June 1993 and matched by John Wetteland of the New York Yankees in June 1996.
"I'm used to my role now," Cordero said last week. "It's just a matter of going out and throwing strikes. I know I can do the job, and these guys have been great behind me."
Cordero, 23, would need to save each of the Nationals' games in a home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates that begins tonight at RFK Stadium. He has pitched on three consecutive days three previous times this season, including four in a row from May 28 to 31.
Cordero, who hasn't blown a save since April 21, has saved eight of Washington's last nine wins. He has also posted a save in each of his last 11 appearances, and has yet to allow an earned run in June. His statistics for this month: 13 appearances, 13 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts and 12 saves.Guzman Slumps Again
Just when shortstop Cristian Guzman looked like he might be out of his season-long slump -- going 9 for 20 over a stretch on the recent road trip to raise his average to .212 -- he has reverted to previous form. He is 0 for his last 14 to fall back to .200.
Drese's Home Debut
Tonight will be the RFK debut of right-hander Ryan Drese, picked up off waivers from Texas on June 10. He was spectacular in his debut with the Nationals, throwing eight scoreless innings in Anaheim, but was torched for five runs in three innings last week against the Pirates. . . .
Four Nationals -- Cordero, infielder Jamey Carroll, outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider -- will visit injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital today.