Corbin in LA:
“He faced 10 hitters. He was behind five, five of them,” Davey Martinez said after Patrick Corbin gave up seven hits, a walk, and six earned runs in 2⁄3 of an inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers last July, a 45-pitch disaster of an outing in what ended up a 7-1 loss.
“And then the guys he got ahead of, he just couldn’t put them away. That was the big deal right there. And he had a lot of pitches, so we had to go get him,” Martinez explained after lifting Corbin in the bottom of the first.
The manager was hoping Corbin would sort things out and at least hang around to eat up some innings, but it didn’t look like that was going to happen.
“It just wasn’t going to happen, you know,” he said. “At some point, around the 40th pitch, I was getting a little worried. I don’t want to get him hurt.”
“I just didn’t fool them at all today,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
Was that last outing in Chavez Ravine still on Corbin’s mind when he took the mound in the series finale in Dodger Stadium on Wednesday?
It didn’t start well for the now-33-year-old lefty...
Corbin’s fourth pitch, a 2-1 slider over the middle to Mookie Betts (who doubled to start that game last year), ended up traveling 379 feet to left field for a leadoff home run yesterday, 1-0, and after Freddie Freeman singled (on a first-pitch fastball), Dodgers’ catcher Will Smith hit an 0-1 sinker up in the zone 386 ft. to center for a two-run blast and a 3-0 lead.
A walk to J.D. Martinez was erased on a double play, and a two-out single was stranded as Corbin was able to limit the damage somewhat, in a 21-pitch frame.
Corbin retired the side in order in the second, after the Nationals cut the lead to 3-2, but an error by Luis García on a Freddie Freeman grounder, and a single to right field by Will Smith (which no one cut on the way home, allowing Smith to take second when Freeman got the stop sign at third base), put two runners in scoring position with no one out in the home-half of the third. A walk to J.D. Martinez loaded the bases in front of Max Muncy, who walked on four pitches to make it 4-3 LA. Corbin got the next three outs without further damage...
A one-out grounder, and inning-ending 6-3-1 DP erased a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth, and Corbin worked around a one-out double and two-out walk in the fifth before he was done for the day, having thrown 88 pitches in five innings...
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HRs, 88 P, 50 S, 5/4 GO/FO.
Corbin generated just six swinging strikes on the day, three on his changeup, and one each on his sinker, slider, and four-seamer, but he did get 18 called strikes overall, 15 on his sinker in the outing.
“Hanging slider, first slider I threw Mookie hit out and then another hit and then a homer on a pitch in,” Corbin said in breaking down his outing after what ended up a 10-6 win.
“But you just try to go as deep as you can, so getting through five there I thought was huge, and the offense was able to put up a couple runs, so kept it close and then we tacked on some more late, so good team over there, you try to minimize mistakes, I think I look back on some of those walks, just a little frustrated with that, but I think coming out with the score it was, just kept us in it.”
• Trailing 3-0 after one, the Nationals came out swinging in the second against the Dodgers’ starter, Noah Syndergaard, well, after Jeimer Candelario walked, and Dom Smith grounded into a double play, but then the swinging started, with Keibert Ruiz homering to center field on a 3-1 sinker up over the middle, 3-1, on Ruiz’s 6th (and 2nd in two games). And next up it was CJ Abrams’ 6th, on a 1-1 sinker low and away Abrams powered out to right-center field, 3-2. Nice response, Nats.
• Joey Meneses (2 for 2) singled with two out to keep the top of the top of the third inning alive, moved up on a walk by Corey Dickerson, and scored when Jeimer Candelario (1 for 1, BB) hit an RBI single to right field to tie things up at 3-3 after two and a half in the finale.
• Meneses was 3 for 3 on the day after he doubled with one out in the fifth, and one out later, he scored when Candelario hit his 7th of 2023 out to center field, 405 ft. to center, connecting with a 1-0 changeup and putting a charge in it, 5-4 Nationals.
The home run came after Meneses strayed too far off second on a line drive to second base by Dickerson, but a high toss to the bag by Miguel Vargas kept the Dodgers from turning an inning-ending DP.
Carl Edwards, Jr. took over for Patrick Corbin in the bottom of the sixth, and promptly gave up a leadoff double by Miguel Rojas, then he let the runner steal third one out later, without paying much attention to him. A two-out intentional walk to Freddie Freeman, and then one that was unintentional to Will Smith loaded the bases, but Edwards, Jr. struck J.D. Martinez out to end the inning and keep it a one-run lead in the Nats’ advantage, 5-4.
Kyle Finnegan got the seventh inning in LA, and he gave up a one-out walk, on a pitch clock violation before a full-count pitch and the freebie scored on a 2-out single to center field by Miguel Rojas, whose hit tied things up at 5-5.
The Nationals almost failed to take advantage of a HBP (on Keibert Ruiz), and an error on a grounder by CJ Abrams, with Abrams running on contact on Ildemaro Vargas’s ground ball to second, and getting hung up and tagged out. Lane Thomas K’d in the next at-bat for the second out. But then Luis García stepped in against Dodgers’ righty Brusdar Graterol and hit an 0-2 slider inside out to right for a 3-run homer and an 8-5 lead.
where's Gwen Stefani bc there was No Doubt pic.twitter.com/W2siC0R1IK— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 31, 2023
Finnegan returned to the mound in the eighth, and gave up a leadoff home run by Mookie Betts, 8-6.
Hunter Harvey took over for Finnegan and got the club out of the eighth with a two-run lead at 8-6.
Keibert Ruiz hit a two-run shot from the left side of the plate in the top of the ninth, 10-6, and he enjoyed this one...
THREE BOMBS IN 24 HOURS— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 31, 2023
runnin' on Ruiz time pic.twitter.com/bjFgHiETnC
His manager didn’t seem too excited about Ruiz’s celebration after his second shot of the game on Wednesday.
“Yeah, that was a little much,” he said of the celebration. “But, yeah — not me, but I love it though. These guys, like I said, they’re playing hard, he’s been hitting the ball hard, and we talked about that. For him to come out today and do what he did, I’m really happy for him.”
BACK PAGE - Speaking of Keibert Ruiz:
As a reporter noted, lending some credence to Davey Martinez’s advice to Keibert Ruiz to keep on doing what he’s doing in spite of the lack of results in the first two months, the Nationals’ catcher’s .221 BABIP going into the series finale in Dodger Stadium, was .071 below league average (.292), so the 24-year-old backstop sticking with what he’s doing might actually be the right move as his manager said.
Ruiz’s Barrel% (9.4%) is up from 2022 (3.7%), his HardHit% is up (36.5% from 32.3% in 2022), as is his SweetSpot% (40.3% from 36.3%), his K% is down (7.8 from 11.5), and his Walk% is a bit better too (7.3% from 6.9%), so yeah, his manager said on Wednesday, keep doing what you’re doing, hard as it is to do sometimes (like when you have a .225/.297/.353 line on the year after 46 games and 192 PAs).
“It really is hard,” Martinez acknowledged. “Because you’re doing everything right. And that is how we have to explain it to him. ‘Hey, you’re doing everything right, you’re hitting 2-3 balls hard a game, I know it’s frustrating, but you cannot change right now. You’re in a good spot.’ So, they’ll fall, they’ll fall.”
Martinez, a .276 hitter in his 16 MLB seasons as a player (.341 OBP, .389 SLG), said he would sometimes make some inconsequential changes at the plate when hits weren’t falling in.
“When I played, sometimes when I went through that, I moved either up in the box two inches, back in the box two inches. I never changed my approach,” he said.
“But just to see if that would help a little bit. If you want to change something, for me, you do something very subtle, and that’s something that we talked about a little bit, and see.
“Who knows? Maybe those extra two inches, you get the ball a little bit out front more, or hit the ball a little bit behind you.
“But as far as his mechanics and his swing, he’s in a great spot, so we don’t want him to tinker with any of that stuff.”
Ruiz did homer (for the first time from the right side this year) in the 2nd of 3 games against the Dodgers on Tuesday, but in his last 10 going into the finale, the Nationals’ switch-hitting catcher was just 7 for 33 (.212/.316/.424).
Doing something like moving up or back slightly in the box, Martinez said, could just be the sort of thing that’s more for the mental aspect of the game than anything else.
“Absolutely. The biggest part of this game, especially for a young player, is the mental side of it, right?” he asked rhetorically.
“So you know we try to teach them ways how to not focus on the mechanics of the hitting, just focus on something else.”
Martinez said he likes Ruiz’s pitch selection and plate discipline, but wants to see him take a swing at more pitches up in the zone he can do damage on going forward.
“He’s got to get the ball up in the zone, right? Get the ball up, stay on the fastball. Breaking balls down [are] his kryptonite,” the sixth-year skipper explained. “So we’re talking a lot to him about just seeing the ball up. And breaking balls up go a long way too, so you know if you’re going to swing at breaking balls, make sure they’re up.”
Ruiz homered twice in the finale and three times total in the series.