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Washington Nationals news & notes: Patrick Corbin struggles early again, Nats lose to D-backs again, 6-2 in D.C.

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ loss to the D-backs in D.C.

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Patrick Corbin’s eight free passes in 11 13 innings in his last two starts before taking on the Arizona D-backs last night, were one more than the 33-year-old gave up over his previous nine outings and 53 13 IP.

He walked four in five innings last time out in LA, including one in a three-run bottom of the first, but he settled in to throw four more innings in which he allowed three more walks, and three hits, but just one run, receiving no decision in a 10-6 win for Washington.

“You just try to go as deep as you can,” the Nationals’ lefty said of settling in after the tough first, “... 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.”

Corbin extended an unbeaten streak to four straight starts in Los Angeles, but he put up an ugly 5.01 ERA, a 5.64 FIP, and opposing hitters had a .301/.359/.473 line against him in 23 13 IP over that stretch, so, a troubling trend.

Last night, back home in D.C., the lefty gave up three runs in a rough top of the first, with a leadoff double by Ketel Marte (on a first-pitch sinker), a single by Corbin Carroll (first-pitch fastball), and two-run double by Emmanuel Rivera (on a 1-2 change low & in), 2-0 D-backs, and 3-0 on a one-out RBI double by Evan Longoria (full-count sinker not far enough inside).

Corbin held it there through three (which he completed on 53 pitches) and came out in the top of the fourth in a 3-2 game and worked around a two-out walk (his 1st of the game) in a relatively quick, 11-pitch inning.

The left-hander gave up three singles in the fifth, (though one hit was erased on yet another outfield assist from Lane Thomas) ... [ed. note - “Stop running on Lane.”] but no runs, in a 21-pitch inning which left him at 85 pitches total.

A 13-pitch sixth, in which he worked around a leadoff single ended Corbin’s outing...

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 98 P, 61 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

“Patrick gave up the three runs, but then he really settled down nicely, and shut them down the rest of the game,” Martinez said after what ended up a 6-2 loss.

“Which was good to see, but when you’re down 3-0 in the first [inning] against a team that’s playing really well it’s tough to scratch and claw and come back.”

“After the first inning he was really really good, and that’s a great sign for me,” he added.

“Kind of the same with the last couple games,” Corbin said of his opponents in the last few outings. “Pitched against the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks quite a bit, or at least they know who I am, but maybe just a little better location early on, mix it up a little bit better, but even as the game went on they did get some hits, but I thought we mixed it up a little bit and got some big outs when we needed.”


• Trailing 3-0 after two and a half innings in Nationals Park, the home team chipped away at the D-backs’ lead in the bottom of the third, with Alex Call singling on a 2-0 sinker from the right-handed starter, Zach Davies, Lane Thomas doubling on a 1-1 sinker up high, and then Luis García, on a 1-0 sinker, singling on a grounder to first base, which brought Call in, 3-1, and 3-2 after the second run scored on a double play grounder off Jeimer Candelario’s bat.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

• Carl Edwards, Jr. gave up a leadoff single by Corbin Carroll, and a two-out RBI double by Evan Longoria, as the D-backs added to their lead in the top of the seventh, 4-2.

• Jordan Weems, in his return to the majors (see below) gave up a leadoff single and a two-run home run in the top of the ninth, 6-2 D-backs.

“We took a lot of fastballs, we really did,” Martinez said of the offense’s struggles against Davies, after the early runs in the third inning.

“You can’t just look for the changeups, he’s got a really good changeup, but you’ve got to stay on the fastball, be aggressive on the fastballs. He threw some fastballs, especially in 0-0 counts, where we should have been ready to hit, and I think we got caught up looking for just the changeup you know, but that’s something that we’ve got to learn to do.

“Hey, we know the guy has got a changeup, but stay on the fastball, get the ball up in the zone a little bit and be ready to hit the fastball.”

Smokey Air In D.C.?:

New York’s Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies both postponed their home games over concerns with the poor air quality, the result of smoke blanketing much of the northeast United States, coming from all the way up in Quebec, where, according to an AP report, “...more than 400 blazes nationwide [in Canada] ... have displaced 20,000 people.”

Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Blows South Creating Hazy Conditions On Large Swath Of Eastern U.S. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Going into the second of three with Arizona in Washington, D.C., Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said as far as he knew then, they were going to play baseball in spite of poor air quality in the nation’s capital.

“So far everybody is fine,” he told reporters. “The air is a little bit weirder than normal, as we all know, I know that MLB is monitoring everything right now, so we’re going to get ready to play a big league ballgame until we hear something else.”

BACK PAGE - Bullpen Changes:

Before the series opener with Arizona in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, the Nationals made a move in the bullpen, designating 30-year-old righty Andrés Machado (8.47 ERA over his 14 games in relief) for assignment and calling up 30-year-old reliever Jordan Weems from AAA Rochester, for the second time this season (4.50 ERA in 24 IP at AAA; 0 ER in 2 13 IP with the big league team).

Before the second of three with the D-backs in D.C., they tweaked some more: Cory Abbott up and Erasmo Ramírez DFA’d to make room on the roster. Abbott, starting at AAA, allowed, “two hits and one run in 10.0 total innings (0.90 ERA), with 12 strikeouts,” the last two times out on the mound, with 33 Ks in the 27-year-old’s last 23 IP overall.

Ramírez, 33, “was 2–3 with a 6.33 ERA in 23 games this season,” before the decision, and he struggled in his latest outing on Tuesday, continuing a stretch of rough outings (17.36 ERA, a 13.78 FIP, and a .500/.516/.958 line against in the last six appearances) by the Nationals’ 12-year veteran right-hander.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“He’s in a funk. He’s in a funk,” Davey Martinez said after Ramírez hit the first batter he faced on Tuesday night, balked two runners up a base, walked one batter, then surrendered a pair of sac flies around an RBI single (and one final hit) before he was lifted.

“I think it’s mechanical,” Martinez continued. “We’re trying to figure some things out. He’s flying open. Can’t control his fastball or his cutter, so we got to get him back. He’s a big piece of our bullpen. Especially in that fifth or sixth inning, we got to find a couple guys to bridge that gap to get to the guys in the back.”

“We were working on a lot of different things,” the sixth-year skipper said after the news of Ramírez’s DFA was official. “Him staying a little closed, he was flying open a lot, and that’s why he had the arm-side run a lot, and he couldn’t grasp staying closed, just everything was off. Two-seamer he couldn’t control, his cutter just wasn’t doing much, and his velo was down. Last year he was up 94-96, this year he was 90-92, his velo dropped quite a bit.”

“He was a real big part of this group last year, just didn’t happen this year, and we opted to do something different.”

Abbott, the “something different”, is up for the third time this season, in his second year in the organization.

“Every time he’s been up here, he’s done fairly well,” Martinez said. “He’s going to get an opportunity to pitch in the bullpen. Just get us outs, and throw strikes.”

And the previous days’ swap? Weems for Machado?

“Obviously Machado was struggling a bit and Weems has been throwing the ball really well,” Martinez said. “We hope that Weems can actually give us multiple innings as well, but it’s a tough move, I really like Machado and he’s got good stuff, it’s just his location was not good and he was getting hit really hard.

Detroit Tigers v Washington Nationals Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

“So like I said, Weems has been throwing the ball really, really well.”

Machado cleared waivers, and was assigned outright to Triple-A Rochester.

Martinez talked previously about Weems sometimes trying to be perfect, and how he’s been able to tweak things and earn the latest opportunity. Has he seen a difference?

“Big difference,” the manger said. “He’s not afraid to throw strike one. That’s been the thing, and with him, he really tries to be a perfectionist with everything he does, and I told him, ‘Perfection is a boring concept sometimes, so just understand who you are and what you want to do every pitch, and attack the strike zone and be convicted when you do it.’ I always tell him all the time, ‘Hey, if you’ve got one thing in mind, and you’re convicted to doing it, do it. Don’t let anybody change yourself, and you’re able to live with the consequences like that, but more times than not success comes out of that. He’s done really well with that. We got to remember too, he’s still a young pitcher, ‘cause he was converted from a catcher, and he’s done really well for himself, because it didn’t take him long to get here as a pitcher. His stuff is good. When he gets in trouble he overthinks sometimes, so we just got to get him to kind of relax and understand that, ‘Hey, this is your time now. You’ve been doing the up and down, now is your time to stick here.’

“‘All I’m asking you to do is go out there, throw strike one, and get outs.’ But I think he’s up for the task.”


From Ken Rosenthal’s latest Notes post at The Athletic:

“Teams in need of bullpen help already are eyeing the Nationals’ Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey and Carl Edwards Jr....”

They’re (teams in need are) also eyeing some White Sox’ relievers according to Rosenthal.

Do you want to see GM Mike Rizzo trade any of those three relievers at the deadline this year?