Deep in the Heart of Texas:
The Washington Nationals’ three-game series in Arlington this weekend is their first with the Rangers in Texas since June 17-19 of 2005, as the Nationals wrote in the pregame notes, and it was a return to one of the teams he played for in the next-to-last season of his 16-year, big league career for Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez, who played 134 games for the Rangers back in 2000.
At that point The Ballpark in Arlington was the Rangers’ home, before they moved just one minute (or 0.3 miles) down the road to the new Globe Life Field in 2020. Martinez said he had some fond memories of his time in Texas, though he didn’t have anything good to stay about the heat.
“It was hot,” Martinez told reporters in is pregame press conference last night.
“We were talking about this yesterday when I was sitting by the pool with a bunch of guys — that I can remember, one, it being hot, some days were 7:00 it was 98°. Two is, I don’t know if you guys remember all of the locusts that were on the field at the time, so fielding a ball out there was sometimes tricky because all the bugs, the ball would come out and hit all the bugs and you had to pick it up. But I had a great time here. I played for Johnny Oates, who is one of my favorite guys, so when I come back here, the first memory was about Johnny and what a good person he was.”
Martinez said his club took some time before the game to check out the field, the outfield walls, and warning track, so they could get ready for their first game in the Rangers’ home.
“They’re all going to go out there and take fly balls and check out the warning track and the angles of the fences,” Martinez said, “so they’ll get their work in and then the thing is about taking BP the first time is seeing the backdrop, and let these guys get their swings and see how the ball travels and get ready for the game.”
Before he gave up seven hits, a walk, and three earned runs in four innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles in OPACY, in which he threw 83 pitches, 30 of which were fouled off, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies about what he has seen from the 32-year-old lefty, who’s been trying to get back to his 2018-19 form for three years now.
“His stuff is solid — he still has velocity, spin rate, and all that stuff — but he’s gotta get out his own way sometimes,” Rizzo told the Junkies.
“Defense hasn’t helped him recently. But it’s the big leagues, there’s no pity party for him.”
“There’s nobody felt sorry for him,” the GM added.
“He’s got to go out there, attack the strike zone, pitch inside, and be aggressive and be the guy that finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young awards for two seasons in a row there [‘18-’19].”
The outing against the O’s left Corbin with a 6.60 ERA, a 4.98 FIP, 28 walks, 63 strikeouts, and a .322/.380/.526 line against in 15 starts and 73 2⁄3 IP on the year, in his fourth season with the Nationals.
His manager said before last night’s game that in spite of Corbin’s ongoing struggles, the club will keep running him out there every five days, and working in-between his starts to try to get him back on track.
“We’re going to keep running him out there,” Martinez said.
“Like I’ve said, his last couple of outings he’s thrown the ball really well, and we’re doing a lot of different things of looking where he was in ‘19 compared to what he’s doing right now, and there’s a lot of similarities. His last outing, he gave up three runs, we didn’t hit, you can look at it that way, you know, we got to score some runs for him as well. But right now I like what he’s doing. The biggest thing in his last outing was finishing hitters, he had a lot of foul balls, so we did talk to him about that a little bit, but I don’t want him to shy away from the strike zone. And that’s what happened to him before.
“He’s throwing strikes, and he’s pounding the strike zone, so I want him to continue to do that, and it’s just a matter of time before things start going his way, and like I said, we score a few runs here and there for him, and you’ll see him pitch six innings, 2-3 runs, and start winning ballgames.
“But I like — I sat with him and talked to him about how well I thought he pitched, and just continue to do that and things will turn around for him.”
Paolo Espino - Starting Pitcher:
Paolo Espino started last night’s game with a 2.29 ERA, a 3.39 FIP, eight walks, 27 Ks, and a .227/.271/.333 line against in 22 games, two starts, and 35 1⁄3 innings, and though he ended up in the rotation because of injuries to other starters, he earned his spot in the starting mix, according to his manager, who said before Espino took on the Rangers the veteran knows his role, and excels wherever he is pitching.
“He understands that he’s here to help the team in any way possible,” Martinez explained.
“In Spring Training we talked to him about his role changing, you know, midseason. He could be a long-man, if he pitches well he could be a one-inning guy, or he could actually have to move into the starting rotation. He knew that coming in, and he worked to where he’s now pitching every five days and he’s accepted his role and he’s done well.”
Espino’s ERA was down to 2.21 on the year after he held the Rangers to a run on six hits in 5 1⁄3 IP on Friday night.