Going up against a tough lineup in the series finale in Atlanta on Sunday, Washington’s left-hander, Patrick Corbin, got off to a rough start, when Ronald Acuña, Jr. hit a comebacker off Corbin’s left leg on the mound.
He brushed off the 115 MPH screamer though, and tossed three scoreless to start, on 49 pitches, before the home team got to the southpaw in the fourth.
Austin Riley singled and Adam Duvall hit a ground-rule double to left for back-to-back, one-out hits, and both runners scored on a Tyler Flowers’ double down the right field line Adam Eaton hustled for but couldn’t catch, 2-1 Braves.
Dansby Swanson singled with two out to load the bases for Freddie Freeman, but a fly ball to left ended the threat, and a 31-pitch frame, which pushed Corbin up to 80 total.
Marcell Ozuna hit Corbin’s 84th offering of the game a long way to left-center for a leadoff solo shot in the fifth that put the Braves up 3-1.
Corbin returned to the mound in the bottom of the sixth, but a one-out single and walk ended his outing, and the two runners he let on scored on a Freddie Freeman slam off reliever Kyle Finnegan that put the Braves up, 7-1 in what ended up a 10-3 win for Atlanta.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 63 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
Did the comebacker on the first pitch he threw affect Corbin’s outing?
“I think he was okay. We asked him and he said he felt fine,” Manager Davey Martinez said after the loss.
“It hurt. He got smoked with a  MPH line drive right off the quad.”
“115 [MPH], I would have flopped like a fish I think if I got hit. But he was — we went out there and checked on him. He told us, ‘That hurt, but I’m fine.’ So, he didn’t say anything else about it the rest of the game, he went out there and did his thing.”
What were the Braves able to do against him?
“I think they did a good job of adjusting to him, they didn’t swing at his sliders and his pitch count got up,” Martinez said
“He threw the ball good, I think at the end, he was throwing the ball well, but his pitch count got so high for 5 1⁄3 innings, it was 106 pitches, but when they don’t start chasing that slider, he starts to get deep in counts. We were 0-2 to 3-2 a lot today, and when you’ve got guys like those guys over there that can hit, that’s tough.”
“I think a lot of teams try to do that,” Corbin said of the Braves’ hitters trying to lay off of his slider, though they did offer at 25 of 47, with 10 swinging, but just one called strike with the pitch.
Was he, potentially, tipping his pitches, so the Braves knew the slider was coming, or were they just not chasing and not swinging at pitches out of the zone?
“Not sure, I mean, I think everybody knows I throw my slider, I throw it a lot, and a lot of times it’s out of the zone,” he explained.
“Some teams have better approaches of laying off of it, some don’t, I think if I do a better job getting ahead of these guys, fastball command I think is very important, then able to expand with that slider.
“We threw some sliders there late for some strikes, so maybe doing a better job of that. I think just getting ahead of guys can help.”
“I just thought they did a good job of just laying off pitches that were down and in. Was able to freeze a couple guys with some fastballs, but slider is my pitch, I’m still going to throw it. I think just getting ahead of guys, getting to two strikes where they’re swinging more, make them aggressive I think is going to help out a lot.”
He also said he was trying to be too careful once runners were on base, which led to his high pitch count.
“I thought when they were getting guys on base, it seemed like every inning, maybe started with a hit,” Corbin said, “you try to pitch a little perfect there and you fall behind some guys, and I think we got into that today, where maybe wasn’t as aggressive in the zone after a guy was on base, and against these guys, trying to make good pitches, they got some power bats in their lineup, so they definitely did get my pitch count up there. When you’ve got guys on base every inning you’re trying to be maybe sometimes too perfect, so just try to do a better job at that.”
Corbin said he didn’t think the Acuña comebacker did any lasting damage. Where did it get him?
“Just right above the knee, it got all muscle. So, it’s a little sore, probably be sore tomorrow, but was able to go out there and pitch still, was able to push off, so it will probably be just a little bit sore for a little bit, but should be able to do everything that I normally do tomorrow and so on.”
Corbin was also asked about one particular pitch, which was making the rounds on Twitter:
Patrick Corbin, nearly Randy Johnson'ing a Butterfly. ☠️ pic.twitter.com/uRmtaAOvwX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2020
Corbin hadn’t seen the clip when he was asked, but he said he was glad he didn’t hit the butterfly.
“Something like Randy Johnson did I guess with the bird, but I’m glad I missed it.”
In case you don’t know what Randy Johnson pitch they’re referring to: