Cordero Is Leaning On His Fastball

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2007

The beginning of Chad Cordero's season has been a closer's nightmare: an inflated ERA (4.76) with slightly more saves (three) and blown saves (two). But Cordero is feeling better after a pair of confidence-building outings.

Cordero retired the top of the Mets' potent lineup in the ninth inning last night to help the Nationals to a 4-3 victory over New York. Cordero, who on Thursday preserved Shawn Hill's eight-inning effort at Philadelphia, was efficient in shutting down the Mets.

"It was real good," Cordero said. "The last two games I've gone back to what got me here, relying on the fastball. I think I threw one off-speed pitch today."

Cordero said he is trusting his fastball more and using the pitch to get ahead of hitters. Cordero said he had fallen into a pattern of throwing too many sliders earlier in the count.

"I was relying on that [slider] way too much, falling behind 2-0, 3-0 and then having to throw a fastball," Cordero said. "I want to get ahead of guys with the fastball, and then go from there."

Before throwing a perfect ninth inning, the closer had allowed opponents to hit .348 with three home runs in 10 appearances.

Restovich Called Up

The Nationals promoted outfielder Michael Restovich from Class AAA Columbus hoping to put a strong bat in the lineup against left-handed pitching. Before his call-up from the Clippers on April 18, Restovich had been hitting .545 (6 for 11) against lefties. But Restovich has struggled in that role with Washington, hitting just 1 for 12 against left-handers entering last night.

"It's just one of those things that happens," said Restovich, who started against Mets lefty Oliver Perez. "You can have one good day and that average is right back up pretty much, so I don't look at it too much and worry about it." . . .

Right-hander Luis Ayala struck out four in two innings at extended spring training. Ayala, who is recovering from surgery on his right elbow, threw 24 pitches and reached 90 miles per hour with his fastball. Shortstop Cristian Guzman, who is recovering from a left hamstring strain, went 0 for 2 in the same game.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company