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07/05/05 7:59 PM ET
National honor: Cordero top June arm
Washington closer 15-for-15 in save chances during month
By Mark Thoma / MLB.com
Chad Cordero was perfect in the month of June this year, so it was only fitting that he was voted National League Pitcher of the Month by the national media, it was announced on Tuesday. Cordero tied the Major League record of 15 saves in a month as the Nationals held on to first place in the NL East with a flurry of close wins. Cordero did not allow an earned run in 16 1/3 June innings, walking two and striking out 14. "It's pretty cool to win Pitcher of the Month," Cordero said. "The fastball was pretty much all I threw in June. I was able to locate the pitch where I wanted to, and I was able to get ahead of hitters with it." That Cordero was able to dominate the league so thoroughly with one pitch is a testament to his control, because Cordero also has an excellent slider that can be tough to track after a steady diet of his low-90s heaters, which tail slightly toward right-handed batters. In part because of his brilliance this June, Cordero was named to his first All-Star team this season. He was the runaway winner in the player balloting for relief pitchers, posting more than 100 more votes (280) than any other NL reliever. The 23-year-old saved all but three of the Nationals' 18 victories in June, including a span of six saves in seven days to close out the month. For the season, Cordero is 2-1 with a 1.25 ERA and 29 saves in 32 chances. In 43 1/3 innings, he's yielded only 34 hits and 10 walks while striking out 38. The Major League saves leader, Cordero broke a franchise record by converting his 24th consecutive save opportunity June 29 against the Pirates. He extended the streak to 26 before having it broken Sunday in Chicago. That blown save didn't even result in a loss, as the Nationals rallied for a 4-3, 11-inning win over the Cubs. "Nobody was down," manager Frank Robinson said. "The cry was, 'Let's pick Chief [Cordero] up. He has been carrying us. We'll pick him up today.' " The Nationals have won two of the three games this season in which Cordero has blown a save, with a 2-1 loss against Atlanta on April 21 the lone time this season Washington has sent Cordero to the mound in a save situation and not come away with a victory. Cordero, who will receive a specially designed trophy to commemorate his award, beat out a strong field to win the honor. Other pitchers receiving votes this month were Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter (4-1 with an 0.90 ERA and 43 strikeouts), Houston starter Roy Oswalt (5-1, 1.40) and Braves starter John Smoltz (5-1 with a 2.50 ERA).
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.