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Patrick Corbin struggles vs Reds; Nationals drop opener in Great American Ball Park, 9-3

Reds’ hitters weren’t biting on Patrick Corbin’s slider, and they hit his fastballs hard, which made for a rough night.

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It took him 116 pitches to do it, but Patrick Corbin tossed a complete game shutout last time out on the mound before Friday night, holding the Miami Marlins to four hits and a walk in a 5-0 win in which he struck out five of 29 batters he faced, and induced 12 ground ball outs.

“You try to have every start like that, but it doesn’t always work out,” Corbin told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the start against the Fish.

“Just made some good pitches over the course of the game. Defense was excellent tonight.

“And Yan [Gomes] laid down the right pitches. It just felt like we were on [the same] page the whole day.”

Going up against the Reds on Friday night in Cincinnati, Corbin struggled early, giving up seven hits and five earned runs in a 30-pitch bottom of the first inning.

Corbin gave up four straight singles to start the game, and a one-out, three-run home run that put the Nationals in a 5-0 hole early.

The seven hits allowed overall in the first matched the most he’d given up in any of his previous eleven starts this season, and the five earned runs were the second-most he’d allowed in any start with the Nationals.

Corbin ended up giving up 11 hits total, with a season-high eight runs (six earned) allowed in just 2 23 IP before the Nationals went to the pen.

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 2.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 65 P, 41 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

What went wrong for Corbin?

“Just his location was a little off,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the 9-3 loss to the Reds. “They laid off the slider, which he usually gets a lot of people to swing at. They didn’t swing at it that much today. He just had an off day. He had, the first three innings he had a lot of high-leverage situations, his pitch count was getting up there, so I didn’t want to keep him out there. It’s one of those days. I know he’ll bounce back in his next start. I’ve got to keep him fresh and keep him ready.”

Overall, 10 of the Reds’ 11 hits came on fastballs, two or four-seamers, with 13 of the 31 fastballs he threw put in play.

“Like I said, he threw some sliders and they weren’t chasing,” Martinez added, “... and he had to throw strikes, there were a lot of situations where he had to come back and throw strikes, and like I said, their approach was really good. They didn’t try to do too much, they stayed up the middle, and they hit the ball well.”

“It seemed like it just happened fairly quick there,” Corbin said. “They got a couple hits to start the game on two pitches and I felt good out there, just some fell in and I made a couple mistakes on a fastball in where they got a hit and the homer pitch, and they just came out swinging, and I didn’t execute as I have, and just try to leave this one and move forward.”

And the Reds’ approach in avoiding his slider and keying in on his fastball?

“Most teams try to do that I guess, but yeah,” Corbin acknowledged. “Like I said, it kind of happened quick, threw the first two pitches, got a couple guys on, was trying to make some quality pitches there, fell behind on some guys, didn’t execute as well as I have, but yeah, I could see teams trying to do that, trying to stay away from that slider, so, yeah.”

Opposing hitters have a .219 AVG against his two-seamer/sinker on the season, even after last night, and a .214 AVG on his four-seam fastball, so why were Reds’ hitters able to hit it so often?

“I thought — I looked at a couple of them I thought were okay, and some were middle of the plate,” Corbin said, “like on the home run pitch, but I think yeah, they were just kind of swinging early, I was throwing fastballs, they were putting some good swings and they were falling in and it happened so quick that — I don’t know — I thought we had a good game plan, didn’t really get to go out and execute it like I wanted to, but yeah, I’ll just try to learn from this and move on.”

Neither Martinez or Corbin were entertaining the idea that the left-hander’s 116-pitch outing in his previous start, or the fact that he’s averaged 109 pitches in his last five starts, had any effect on his performance against the Reds.

“No, we looked at that and we talked,” Martinez explained. “Like I said, I talk to these guys and he said he felt really good. Even tonight when I took him out he said, ‘I felt good.’ I said they just weren’t biting, he had throw the ball more over the plate and he got behind and they had a good approach against him. They stayed up the middle, they didn’t try to do too much and like I said, it’s just one of those days for him, and I know that he’s ready to go back out there again in five days. He’s a professional, so he knows what he’s going to give us the next time out.”

“I felt good,” Corbin said. “We had an extra day off this last one, so I think we have another day coming up, so just kind of give everybody another day, but I thought the bullpen did a great job after me. It’s always hard when you don’t do your job and guys can come in and pick you up, so just happy to see that and hopefully they’re all pretty good to go tomorrow.”