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Washington Nationals’ Patrick Corbin impresses in 2020 debut

Patrick Corbin held the Yankees to a run on two hits in 6 1⁄3 IP in the Nationals’ 3-2 loss on Sunday.

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington’s bullpen gave the club five scoreless innings after starter Erick Fedde was done for the night on Saturday, so Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez was hoping to get some length out of his starter in Sunday’s series finale with the New York Yankees.

“Hopefully Corbin can go out there and give us five or six strong innings and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez told reporters.

Corbin, 31, and starting for the first time in the second year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals, said after his final outing in Spring Training 2.0, that he did all he could the past few weeks to get ramped up for the start of the 60-game season after spending the layoff working out to stay sharp for baseball’s return.

“We try to stay ready all of us,” the lefty explained. “Everybody is different with what they were able to do at home. I wasn’t able to get on a mound as much as I like, so I just wanted to come here and try to throw as many times off the mound as I could, bullpen-wise, and was able to get three starts in and went 3-4-5 innings, so I feel good to where I can go out there and extend my pitch count, which I’m pleased with, I feel the location is there, so I’m pretty pleased to where we’re at, and I think my stuff’s just going to continue to get better the more outings and treatment and working out and things like that like we would normally do during a season.”

If he’s going to continue to get better, as manager Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, “if he can go out and keep going out and doing that for us every five days, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Corbin retired the first nine batters he faced in the third of three with NY in D.C., striking out five, and generating six swinging strikes with his slider through three innings, then he came back out in the top of the fourth inning with a 1-0 lead and recorded two more outs, before giving up his first hit on a 2-0 sinker to Gleyber Torres.

Torres was stranded, however, and Corbin retired the next seven batters as well, retiring 18 of 19 overall in six scoreless innings he completed on an efficient 67 pitches, striking out a total of seven batters and inducing seven ground ball outs.

Corbin came back out for the seventh and struck Aaron Judge out, but Gleyber Torres hit a first-pitch fastball out to left on a line for a solo homer on the 75th and final pitch from the Nats’ starter...

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 75 P, 49 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Luke Voit hit a game-tying home run off Will Harris later in the seventh, and the Yankees went up on an RBI single by Torres off Sean Doolittle in the eighth.

“He threw the ball really well,” Martinez said of Corbin’s outing. “It’s his first time getting up in a game seven times.

“That last inning he kind of started getting the ball up, so we knew he was at his limit. But he threw the ball really well.”

The decision to pull Corbin in the seventh? Did Martinez regret it in hindsight?

“I mean it was hot,” the manager said.

“First time he’s been up in the seventh inning. I know his first batter his ball was up a little bit. He likes to pitch down in the zone, so we knew where he was at.

“When I went out there and talked to him, he said he felt fine, but then he said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’ So, we had our guys in the bullpen locked in.

“I thought that was the perfect opportunity, he gave us all he had for as long as he could.”

Corbin didn’t have any issue with the hook coming when it did.

“First time out there, I went three innings, four innings, five innings, to get up to this point. I haven’t made it to a sixth inning,” the southpaw said.

“Getting to the seventh there, even though the pitch count wasn’t super-high, it was — I mean, getting up seven times was something that I haven’t done.

“After that homer, with Stanton coming up — we have a good bullpen down there so we have to get those guys in there.

“I understand it. If this was a normal season at this point, or if my pitch count was up, it was definitely a situation I’d love to be in.

“But everybody’s got to be smart about this, to where — we’re smart with getting our pitch count up there to where we’re able to go past 100 pitches is where I want to be.”

Once he was out of the game, Corbin said, he felt the energy drop.

“I felt pretty good,” he explained. “I told Davey when he came out I felt good enough to continue. I think right when I was done I was pretty gassed, you go into the dugout and sit down, but I went five innings [before Sunday], that was the most that I’ve gone up to this point. To go out there and get to the seventh is a good step.

“I don’t think it was necessarily the pitch count, it was more so getting up seven times, getting back out there on your feet. I feel I can easily go out and throw 90-plus pitches.

“I think it was just getting up to the seventh inning there.”

Enjoying the success he did, against a powerful team like the Yankees, Corbin said, gave him something to build on going forward.

“They’ve got some power hitters in that lineup, and you know they’re up there swinging,” he told reporters.

“You have to be on your game. One mistake can lead to a homer. Today I didn’t have guys on base to where they could hit some two-run homers or things like that.

“Just trying to locate. I think today my fastball command was pretty solid, so that’s another positive to take away from this, so I feel pretty good right now. So just hope to continue to build off of it.”