Patrick Corbin held the Pittsburgh Pirates to one run on four hits in seven innings in his third start of the season, striking out 11 of 25 batters he faced, then he went 7 2⁄3 innings against the San Francisco Giants in an outing in which he gave up just one run on two hits, striking out 9 of 26 as he earned his first win of the 2019 campaign.
“He used both sides of the plate,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nats avoided a sweep at home against the Giants. “Slider/changeup was really, really good.
“When he can throw strikes on both sides of the plate, he’s tough. He gets ahead of hitters, it makes that slider that much better.”
Both of those starts were in the nation’s capital, however, and Tuesday’s was in notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field.
How would he handle pitching in Colorado, a park he had plenty of experience pitching in over the years as part of the NL West’s Arizona Diamondbacks?
Corbin told MASN’s Alex Chappell that he would just do what he always does on the mound even though he was starting in Denver, where he had a 6.55 ERA in 11 games, 10 starts, and 55 career innings pitched, over which Rockies’ hitters had a .322/.370/.568 line against the left-hander.
“There’s maybe a better chance there’s more runs scored here,” Corbin said, “so just trying to keep your team in the ballgame, go out there, throw strikes, try to eat up some innings, there are some longer games played here, so I think you’re just trying to stay away from the homer. You’re going to give up some singles that fall in, or some triples or doubles, the gaps are big here, so you still want to just go out there and pitch the same game that you’ve been doing, and just hope for some good results.”
Corbin couldn’t stay away from the homer, however. Raimel Tapia, who homered Monday night in the series opener, took the left-hander deep to right field for a two-out, two-run blast in the bottom of the second inning to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.
Corbin singled as part of a four-run rally in the top of the third, retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, and worked around back-to-back, two-out singles in the fourth.
A run scored in the fifth, on a two-out, two-on error by Wilmer Difo on a grounder up the middle off Nolan Arenado’s bat, after Corbin gave up a two-out single and walk, 4-3 Nats.
Davey Martinez sent Corbin back out for the sixth, even though he was up to 94 pitches, and he retired the Rockies in order in a nine-pitch frame.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 66 S, 6/5 GO/FO.
Current NL Strikeout Leaderboard:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 24, 2019
1. Max Scherzer - 44
2. Luis Castillo - 41
T3. Patrick Corbin - 39
T3. Stephen Strasburg - 39 pic.twitter.com/joafWS0o8j
Once Corbin was done, the Nationals turned to Joe Ross for one out, Tony Sipp (vs two left-handed hitters he retired), Wander Suero (two outs in the eighth) and Sean Doolittle (a four-out save). It was a big night for the Nats’ bullpen and their starter.
“Corbin kept us in the ballgame,” manager Davey Martinez said after the 6-3 win.
“[He] gave us everything he had, and the bullpen came in today and stepped up. Joe Ross got a big out, Sipp comes in and gets the two lefties out, and then Suero gets two big outs, and Doolittle, that’s a big moment of the game, Doolittle got four outs, so we played well.”
“[Corbin’s] pitch count was getting up there,” Doolittle said after earning his third save, “but he went back out and finished that sixth inning, that was huge for us as a bullpen and as a team, we really, really needed a start like that, to bounce back after yesterday’s loss.”
“We stressed Corbin a little bit,” Rockies’ skipper Bud Black told reporters.
“We ran his pitch count up, he was maybe in the 90s right, after five innings. We had some long at bats, I think we did a good job of laying off the slider for the most part, had some foul balls with tough two-strike pitches, Charlie [Blackmon] had a long one, there was a couple long ones, and their bullpen did a nice job.”
Corbin said that after giving up two runs early, he knew he’d have to keep it close to let the offense get going in the mile-high air.
“I knew two runs wasn’t going to win the game and I only gave up two early,” Corbin said, as quoted by AP writer Dennis Georgatos.
“I knew our offense was going to put something on the board. It’s tough to keep runs off the board in this ballpark generally, so if I just minimized the damage and kept the score where it was, we’d have a good shot to be right back in it.”
“Corbs was awesome again,” Doolittle added, “and having pitched here a bunch I think he handled it really, really well, and after — they took an early lead, right, and then he came back out and got a single and started a rally, I thought that was really cool.”