Davey Martinez threw Stephen Strasburg out in the NL Wild Card Game for three innings of relief work, and he got a scoreless inning from Max Scherzer in Game 2 of the NLDS, so, he was asked going into Game 3 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, did he have any starters ready to come out of the bullpen again?
“That remains to be seen,” Martinez said coyly.
“I mean we’ll see how the game goes. I’ve said this before, everybody talks about a series and these playoffs, but you are really playing a one-game series every night. So we’ll see what happens.”
The most likely option, if he was to go that route, was Patrick Corbin, who started Game 1 for Washington in LA. So did he ask the veteran left-hander to hold off on throwing his in-between starts bullpen so that he could use those pitches on the mound if necessary?
“I’ve asked a lot of guys to hold off on their bullpens,” the second-year skipper said with a laugh.
“You know, the beautiful thing about our guys is that they’re all in, they really are. It’s never a twist-your-arm conversation. These guys, they want to play and they’re ready to do anything to win.”
Sure enough, after five strong from Aníbal Sánchez, who gave up a solo home run with two out in the fifth for the only run he allowed on the night, Martinez called Corbin out for his first relief appearance since 2017.
“You know, before the series started,” Martinez had said after Game 2, “before we even got to the playoffs, our game plan was to try to utilize these guys the best way possible without disrupting their starts, and we talked to all of them and they have all been on board. So it’s just part of it. When you get to these games, I’ve said this before, you’re playing to win one game. Every day’s crucial.”
Corbin struggled, however, giving up a leadoff single, then, after two Ks, a two-out hit that put runners on the corners in front of Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin, who hit a 2-2 slider out to left-center for a two-run double that put LA up, 3-2, and a walk to Chris Taylor and a two-RBI double by Kiké Hernández followed to make it a 5-2 game, with Hernández’s on a 1-2 slider.
Corbin put Max Muncy on with an intentional walk before he was done, and Wander Suero took over with two on and gave up a three-run blast to left by Justin Turner, 8-2, in what ended up being a 10-4 win for the Dodgers that gave them a 2-1 lead in the series.
The most frustrating part, Corbin said after the loss, was that the big hits came on two- strike pitches, with three of four after the left-hander got up 0-2 to start the at bats.
“Just left a couple sliders there, kind of spun out, didn’t have the usual break that I get on them, and it just stinks,” the southpaw said.
“I feel like I let these guys down. They did a great job of getting the lead early and Sánchez pitched a heck of a game, so, it’s tough.”
“I got ahead and just left a couple breaking balls up on Martin and Kikè, those were just two terrible pitches,” he added.
“We tried to waste a couple pitches and they would either foul it off or not bite at all, so they did a good job,” Yan Gomes said, after coming on late when Corbin came on to pitch.
“Tip your cap to them,” Gomes added. “They had a great approach against Pat, like I said, we kind of just weren’t able to put them away.”
“They did a great job of laying off,” Martinez said of the Dodgers’ approach at the plate.
“But that’s tough. As we have seen Corbin all year, it’s tough. It looks, his slider looks like a fastball to the last minute. And he threw a pretty good one to Martin. It was down, and he was able to put the bat on it. The other one he left kind of up to Kikè. But to me it was just really just one bad pitch he left up and then they laid off some pretty good pitches.”
“He’s been unbelievable all year,” the second-year skipper said of Corbin. “And I would do it again. I really would. He was the guy. I just feel bad for him because he went out there, gave us everything he had, he did. So, and once again, he looked at me in the eye after he came out and says, I’ll be ready tomorrow. So that’s the kind of guys we got on this team.”
And the decision to go to Corbin when he did, after a solid outing by Sánchez?
“Aníbal was at 87 pitches. He gave us all he had. We were at a good spot in the lineup where we thought Corbin could get through it,” Martinez explained.
“And his stuff was good, he’s throwing 94, slider was good, I think he left one ball up. But he had every hitter 0-2, he just couldn’t finish. They laid off some good pitches.”