Nats Lose By One (Again)

Ubaldo Jimenez looked like his old self on Saturday night, holding the Nationals to just five hits and one run in eight innings — and notching a 2-1 win for his Colorado Rockies. Jimenez, who is suffering through a 4-8 season and an unusually high (4.14) ERA, looked like the Ubaldo Jimenez of last year, when his up-in-the-eyes fastball was the talk of the league. The Nationals loss, meanwhile, squandered a solid outing from former Rockies’ hurler Jason Marquis, who toughed out six innings, giving up two runs to the often run-starved Heltons.

Despite Jimenez’s dazzling performance, the Nationals were within 90 feet of tying the game and a long bomb away from winning it. But slumping star Jayson Werth couldn’t keep the ball out of the glove of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who turned a double play to end the game. Werth, who is mired in a season-long slump, has been booed by Nationals’ fans this year, but no more so than on Saturday, as he stood beyond first after hitting into his game ending double play.

But for Washington, the problem was not Werth — it was the Rockies’ staring pitcher. “He’s filthy,” Johnson said of Jimenez. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the league. We’ve been swinging the bats pretty good, but he calmed us down quite a bit. I think we outhit them, just couldn’t score.”

The Nationals loss marked their third loss in a row — all of them by one run. That mini-streak had been preceded by three wins, all of them also by one run. “Right now, we’re living and dying by the one-run game,” shortstop Ian Desmond, who was 2-3 with a triple, noted. “These one-run games are just flukes. It’s one of those things, but it will turn around for us.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s possible to trace the popularity of a player by the number of baseball cards and posters issued in his name. Derek Jeter must take the honors. The Yankee captain (who notched his 3000th career hit yesterday — as if you didn’t know) has literally hundreds of cards with his name, including special issues designed to appeal to Yankees’ fans.

Not surprisingly, Jeter cards have jumped in price over the last 24 hours. Not to worry: they’ll come down. Experts on this (a rather large group, actually), say that the most valuable of the Jeter cards is the Topps 1993 rookie card issue, which is also not much of a surprise. In terms of appearance, it’s also not that great a card.

In the years ahead, the now overpriced cards will return to the norm — their value will be based on their condition and the numbers in circulation. Alas, for investors, Jeter cards come in all shapes and sizes, while regular issues (printed to meet expected demand) run into the millions. There are even some tongue-in-cheek “photochop” fakes.

But for those of us who have cards (and are convinced there’s no such thing as having too many) there’s always the decidedly un-sound reason for really having them. They’re baseball cards.

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