I think this was Cordero's most clutch save. Yes he has had great ones before (Anaheim), but none with the almost "do or die" consequences of this one (even though its a little early). He had to go through the 3,4,5 hitters. After walking Berkman, it looked like it was going to be disastrous. But he sucked it up and got Ensberg. Then Lamb to DP. All this not knowing whether he can allow groundballs to shortstop.
After Guzmans horrid throw, did anybody notice Franks expression in the dugout. It was hard to tell if he was going to
B) Run out of the dugout, rip out 2nd base and stab Guzman with it.
You're actually understating the Chief's achievement. He had to go through their 2
-3-4-5 guys, and that first one was the real nailbiter, with runners on the corners in the bottom of the 8th with that sinking feeling that it was all gonna slip away rushing onwards.
I agree, however, that this game was one of the most important he's ever given us, and I consider it a possible inflection point in his career. Prior to this you could maybe make the argument that Cordero got freakishly lucky earlier in the season, and that the 'carriage had turned back into a pumpkin,' so to speak, along with the rest of the Nats' fortunes. Certainly the blown save against the Cowards and that blown hold vs. the Pads could be cited as evidence. In fact, I was a bit worried when he came in last night for exactly that reason. After all, Cordero doesn't have dominating stuff; he's not a Rivera-type 96mph pitcher, he's a control pitcher who succeeds by outright flummoxing the batters. That's exactly the sort of guy who could have a run where he seems God-like and then return to mediocrity.
But instead, the Chief came out under the biggest pressure situation imaginable - 2 out, runners on corners, razor-thin lead disappearing due to freak luck a la
so many other recent losses, the 1-Run Demon hissing and snapping at the team's heels, and all in one of the most important games of the season - and he was absolutely fearless. Except for the first batter of the 9th, Berkman (whom he seemed to be staying away from), he came right at the heart of the Astros order, and duelled Morgan Ensberg into the most important strikeout of the game.
The guy's a gem. There are now only three truly dominant closers in Major League Baseball (Rivera, Hoffman, Cordero), and we've got one of them - amazing.