“He really liked that we had to offer here,” Rizzo said. “[Managing Principal Owner] Mark Lerner and I took him out to dinner, he and his wife Jen, and we showed him the city, we showed him what the ballpark was like, what the area around the ballpark was like, what living in D.C. means to the citizens of it ... it was a recruiting mission. There’s no question about it.
“We mapped out a vision that we’ve had here and we showed him our minor league prospects, what the team is going to look like 1-3-5 years down the road, and had an extremely nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Georgetown.
“And to get into the restaurant that night, we had to go through a metal detector because the Vice President of the United States was in the house, and not many cities can say that.”
Corbin and the Nationals agreed on a 6-year/$140M deal last December, and in 33 starts, the 30-year-old lefty was (14-7) with a 3.25 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 70 walks (3.12 BB/9), and 238 Ks (10.60 K/9) in 202 innings pitched.
The seven-year veteran was part of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ roster in 2017, but he didn’t end up pitching in the series, which the Los Angeles Dodgers swept. He signed on in D.C., Corbin told reporters in advance of his first career World Series start, at least in part for an opportunity to pitch in the postseason.
“The big reason was to come here and make it to the World Series and win a World Series,” Corbin said.
“I knew the guys in here were capable of doing it. It’s a great team and we’ve just put things together really well.”
It didn’t go how Corbin of the Nationals hoped, however.
Corbin struggled from the start in Game 4, giving up four consecutive hits and two runs in a seven-pitch stretch in the first, then giving up a leadoff walk and two-run bomb in the top of the fourth, 4-0.
After a backwards K from George Springer started his outing, José Altuve singled on a first-pitch fastball, Michael Brantley lined a 1-0 slider to center, Alex Bregman singled, on a first-pitch fastball, driving in the Astros’ first run, and Yuli Gurriel hit a 1-1 slider to third Anthony Rendon dove on but threw late to first, as run No. 2 crossed the plate.
Two innings later, the leadoff walk Carlos Correa, then a 1-0 changeup to Robinson Chirinos that was right down the middle made it a four-run lead.
Corbin made it through six with just the four runs allowed, but he was up to 96 pitches at that point, and was done for the night with the Nationals still trailing, 4-0, and the Astros added four on a grand slam by Alex Bregman in the seventh, after the home team got on the board, 8-1.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 96 P, 59 S, 8/0 GO/FO.
“He just got -- he starts the game, he gets a little quick,” Davey Martinez said after the loss left the World Series tied at 2-2. “But then he settled down for a little bit and then Chirinos hit a good changeup.”
“They came out swinging,” Corbin said, “... got the first strikeout, Altuve hit a fastball that was away off the plate, got a single, and that seemed — they got a couple hits after that fairly quickly, was able to get the double play to keep it to two.
“And I thought we did a better job just mixing it up after that, and just the location on the changeup [to Chirinos] was a mistake, and that was it.”
“We got some outs on it early,” Corbin said of the change, which he tried to throw to the Astros’ catcher, “... with some other hitters too, and just the location on that pitch wasn’t where I wanted it.
“It was right down the middle, and if I locate it better, it’s a different outcome.”
Where did he want it? “Down and away.”
Corbin finished the night with 96 pitches, 11 swinging strikes, seven with his slider, and 14 called strikes, five with his four-seam fastball, and four each with his two-seam and slider.
“They’re a tough lineup,” he said of Houston’s hitters, who finished the regular season with a .280/.362/.505 line vs LHPs this season, good for 5th/1st/3rd among major league teams.
“They’re one of the best in baseball,” Corbin added, “... so I tried to just minimize damage there, we were still in the game there for a little bit, and we had some chances today, and yesterday, just things didn’t go our way today, so we’ll just have to come back tomorrow.”