- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tim Redding’s peculiar 2008 season ended Wednesday night at the confluence of a late-season drop and a yearlong slide against the Florida Marlins that washed out his chance to finish a major league season with a winning record for the first time.

It also drowned out whatever remnants there were of the 30-year-old’s beginning, when the accolades flowed in and he gave his team a chance to win in every start.

A season that began with so much promise for Redding still ends with him as the Nationals’ leader in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins. But the way he finished belied everything about how he started.

Redding lost for the eighth time in 11 second-half decisions Wednesday night, turning in his shortest outing of the year in a 9-4 loss to the visiting Marlins. The loss gave him a 10-11 record and increased his ERA, which stood at 3.16 in early May, to 4.95 to finish the year.

“No excuses,” Redding said. “I just didn’t do my job to the best of my ability like I did the first 15, 16, 17 starts.”

One pitch in and it was clear Redding hadn’t emerged from the malaise Florida put him in all season. He pumped a fastball over the plate in an ideal spot for Hanley Ramirez, who launched it into the center-field seats.

The rest of the first inning played out like a microcosm of Redding’s entire year against Florida: He gave up a single to Cameron Maybin, then drilled Jorge Cantu in the back with a pitch. After home plate umpire Kevin Causey warned both benches, Redding composed himself and got Josh Willingham to ground into a double play.

But then he shot a low pitch through Wil Nieves’ legs, and Maybin trotted home from third.

The inning ended with the Marlins ahead 2-0. There was more trouble on the way.

Redding gave up a pair of doubles to Ramirez and Jorge Cantu, following those with walks to Josh Willingham and Dan Uggla. Then Jeremy Hermida hit a single past second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, Gaby Sanchez smacked a double to left and Redding’s season concluded 2 2/3 innings into his final start.

“I never gave myself a chance to use all my pitches. Fastball-hitting team, we’ve known this all year,” Redding said. “No matter how big your ego is, sometimes you just have to take your medicine and try to use your other pitches.”

Redding went 3-8 after the All-Star break with a 6.40 ERA. His Wednesday start against the Marlins bookended his year in stark contrast to his first outing, when he threw seven innings of one-hit ball against the Phillies. Redding, who won 10 games with the Astros in 2003, had four chances to win his career-high 11th game. His ERA in those four games: 9.17.

Although he said he got tired for a brief period after the All-Star break, Redding’s velocity remained in the 90s on Wednesday night. Rather, he pointed to a tendency to fall behind hitters - one he mostly avoided early in the year.

“The first half was real good, the type of half you try to have a whole season like,” Redding said. “Second half, the numbers show for themselves. It’s sad having to look back at the last 2 1/2 months knowing I let some things slip away that were in grasp for myself.”

If his dropoff was mostly confined to the second half of the season, his struggles against the Marlins permeated it. Redding this season posted a 1-4 record with a 7.76 ERA in six games against Florida.

Redding played a big part in staking the Nationals to their 14th loss in 18 games against the Marlins this year, but Washington’s offense didn’t help.

Playing without their top two hitters (Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman were out with the flu), the Nationals managed just two runs off Florida starter Josh Johnson, losing to the left-hander for the second time in 11 days.

“It’s very tough, especially when you’re going against a guy like Johnson,” Acta said. “It was just a big, deep hole for us.”

Both of Washington’s runs against Johnson came in the second inning, with their middle infielders generating the offense. Anderson Hernandez led off with a walk, and Bonifacio drove him in with a triple to right. The second baseman then scored on Alberto Gonzalez’s groundout to second, but the Nationals added just two more runs.

The Nationals had talked about an extension with the arbitration-eligible Redding earlier this season, and he said Wednesday he would like to return to Washington next season.

“It’s sad to see it end as rough as it was the last couple outings,” Redding said. “It’s something that keeps me hungry.”

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