Working exclusively with catcher Yan Gomes in the first year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Washington Nationals in 2019, Patrick Corbin posted a 3.25 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 70 walks, 238 Ks, and a .227.293.375 line against in 33 starts and 202 innings pitched in the regular season, then helped the Nats win it all on their run to a World Series championship.
The two were matched up again tonight in the final exhibition game of Spring Training 2.0, with the 2020 season opener with the New York Yankees scheduled for this Thursday night in the nation’s capital.
Corbin gave up two runs early, with Baltimore Orioles’ leadoff man Austin Hays singling to left and scoring on an RBI double to center by Hanser Alberto, who took third on a ground ball and scored on a two-out RBI single by José Iglesias that made it 2-0 O’s at the end of a 17-pitch opening frame.
“I mean, threw a couple fastballs there early and they came out swinging,” Corbin said in his post game Zoom call with reporters.
“You’re just trying to get settled in there, trying to locate your fastball, which I thought I did well tonight. After those first two hitters, we kind of were able to establish both sides of the plate, throw all the pitchers that we needed to, and got in a rhythm with Yan, which is great, and also facing a different team for the first time was also something different.
“I mean, sometimes that happens, they come out swinging. You just got to be ready for that, mix things up and come out of the gate executing your pitches.
“If anything, that’s a good learning step there going into my first start of the season.”
Corbin retired the Orioles in order in a nine-pitch second inning, worked around a two-out single in a 13-pitch third, and threw another 1-2-3 frame in the fourth, completing four at 53 pitches overall.
The O’s connected for back-to-back, two-out singles in the fifth, but Austin Hays made the third out at third trying to take an extra base on Hanser Alberto’s two-out hit, letting Corbin off the hook after 12 pitches in the inning and 65 total on the night.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 65 P 48 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
“I thought Corbin threw the ball really well,” Manager Davey Martinez said after what ended up a 6-4 win.
“Mixing up his pitches. The two-seamer was really, really good. I thought he was throwing quite a few more, but I think he’ll be fine once we get him stretched out and get him going.”
Roll out of bed/double: Howie Kendrick went the other way with a fastball up high, inside from O’s starter Kohl Stewart, driving Adam Eaton in from second base after Eaton hit an infield single on which José Iglesias committed a throwing error which moved Trea Turner (walk) over to third base, before he, Turner, scored on a Juan Soto groundout.
With those two runs, it was 2-2 after one inning in Nationals Park. Kendrick went 3 for 4 with a double and a two-run home run last night in Baltimore, and the 37-year-old continued to look like a player who was clearly, definitely, not affected by the two weeks he missed after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 before Spring Training 2.0 got started.
“Howie, to me, he’s just a professional hitter,” Martinez said after Kendrick went 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs. “He has a plan every time he goes up there. He’s very short, he uses the whole field.
“Having him here, having him hit behind Juan is a blessing. It really is. So those two guys in the middle of our lineup are going to help us out a lot.”
Eaton walked, took third on a Juan Soto double to right, and scored on a fielder’s choice when Kendrick grounded out to first with a runner on third to bring in the go-ahead run, making it 3-2 in the Nationals’ favor after four.
“[Soto is] taking these at bats seriously,” his manager said after the win, discussing Soto’s late start to Spring Training 2.0, and the fact that he came out swinging once he joined in the action two weeks into the three-week build-up.
“He knows he don’t have that much time, and he knows he needed to get ready. So every at bat, to him, in his mind, counted, and it was good to see.”
Starlin Castro drove in two runs with a two-out RBI single off Orioles’ reliever Cesar Valdez in the bottom of the sixth, 5-2.
Sean Doolittle gave up a couple hard-hit balls and two runs in a 14-pitch frame in the top of the seventh, 5-4 Nationals, but Trea Turner hit a one-out double to drive Victor Robles in to make it 6-4. That’s how it ended when the rain came in the eighth.
Doolittle’s velocity was down, in the 89-90 range, but his manager said he wasn’t worried to see the reliever or a couple other pitchers a little off their previous average velo.
Everything looks really good. His mechanics, I think, look great. I was talking to Paul today. He was better today.
“He was better today,” Martinez said. “He was up to 89, a couple 90, I think it’s just going to come. Like I said, he might be a little slower than the other guys, but I think his velo will get up there in the 90s again. We just have to wait and see, but the ball was coming out nice.
“Threw some good fastballs today. I know he’s mixing in a little more breaking pitches, I know he wants to, so we’ll see what happens.”
So, that’s it for the three exhibition game build-up to Opening Day. Next time the Nationals take the field, it will, as they say, count.
“We’ve still got another workout tomorrow,” Martinez added, “they’re going to come, they’ll get some at bats, [Aníbal] Sánchez is going to throw a little sim game tomorrow, so they’ll get some more at bats and then we’ll get ready to go Thursday.”