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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hill Lose Hill to Forearm Pain, Game to Halos 8-3

Washington, DC-In the microcosm, it was just another loss in a season that has been full of them, and will, in all likelihood, continue. In the grand scheme of things, however, this loss could prove more costly in significance if this was the end of Shawn Hill on the mound for the Washington Nationals for the foreseeable future.

Hill (L, 1-5, 5.83) was hammered by the Angels for eight runs -- six earned -- on eight hits and a walk in just three innings of work, as the Washington Nationals lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 8-3 Tuesday night before 28,531 at Nationals Park. He gave up six in the first and another two in the third inning.

The bigger news, however, in what has become a lost season for the reluctant ace, was when after the game Manager Manny Acta announced Hill was likely headed to the disabled list and on his way very soon to see specialists at the Mayo clinic to re-examine his elbow and forearm, the source of Hill's pain and frustration this season. Hill was despondent in his post-game interview, stoic and brutally honest as always with the gathered press. "I'm just not right." he said. "Not a whole lot of guys throw through this for as long as I have…[M]aybe two weeks off, a week off, a month off, whatever it may be, I have no idea. I might come back and feel like a new guy, or [the rest] might do absolutely nothing. I have no idea."

His performance on Tuesday night was described as "flat" by Acta and his location "suffering" by pitching coach Randy St. Claire.

Hill started the season on the DL and has struggled every start since his return. In the beginning, the pain forced him to give up throwing between starts, something he's acknowledged as being important for him to maintain his control and consistency. He recently had returned to throwing side sessions, but the pain has worsened and left him in a reduced capacity during games. Tuesday's fiasco was, apparently, the final straw. Hill is no longer able to pitch through the pain, and the incredible effort he's been putting forth just to get on the mound for the Nats is not enough when the results were as bad a they were last night, effectively ending any chance the team had to be competitive in the first inning.

The lack of any consistent offensive production from this patchwork line-up of discarded veterans and untested youngsters places an extra premium on pitching, especially the starters, and trailing 6-0 after the top of the first is a death sentence for a squad hitting .238 as a team, last in all of Major League Baseball.

Jon Garland got the win for the Angels, leaders of the American League West. He went seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk, including solo home runs by Wily Mo Pena (2) and Elijah Dukes (3).

Adding insult to Hill's injury, the defense was atrocious again Tuesday, as the Nats committed four errors, two in that fateful first inning. Paul LoDuca, starting in left field for the first time since 2004, threw away the first ball hit to him, allowing a runner to advance an extra base. Dmitri Young booted two grounders at first base, and Willie Harris kicked one away at second, starting once again for Felipe Lopez. To their credit, the Nats did complete three double plays, including a strike-em-out, throw-em-out by Jesus Flores.

The Nats conclude their three-game series with the Halos Wednesday night, as Tim Redding (6-3, 4.12) takes the mound against Ervin Santana (9-3. 3.17) for the Angels.

NATS NOTES: The loss lowers the Nationals record to 30-49, last in the NL East, twelve and one-half games behind Philadelphia. The Nats have lost four straight, and are 2-7 in their last ten games.

LoDuca summoned the trainer in the top of the second inning during Vlad Guerrero's at bat. He experienced dizziness and nausea and was removed from the game. He was taken to a hospital for observation. He was given IVs and was reported to be feeling better later in the evening. No further word from the team has been released at this writing.

Redding appeared at the ESPN Zone downtown Tuesday at lunchtime for a Q&A with Nats fans. Radio play-by-lay Charlie Slowes emceed the event, attended by roughly 75 Nats fans.

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