The 4th of July in D.C.:
“It was an unbelievable start,” Davey Martinez said of the seven scoreless Patrick Corbin got through in his outing against the Seattle Mariners on the road in T-Mobile Park. “I mean, his four-seamer was good today, his two-seamer was good, and his slider was really, really good. So he kept the guys off-balance, but gave us everything we needed. It was exactly what we needed today.”
Corbin, who’s been through a lot over the last few years, struggling to pick up where he left off at the end of the first year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals over the four that have followed, didn’t take much time basking in the glow of his best outing of 2023 so far.
“I’m not going to get too high after this one, just look at some of the things I did well and try to improve and get ready for my next one,” Corbin said after the outing, as quoted by MASN writer Mark Zuckerman.
And what did he think he’d done well coming out of the start?
“Just a good job of using both sides of the plate. Good fastball command. Good slider, I had a really good feel for that today and got a lot of swings and misses on it,” Corbin explained.
“Defense played great. I was just in a really good rhythm with [catcher Riley Adams]. These ones are fun.”
Corbin had a 2.84 ERA in four starts and 25 1⁄3 IP with Adams behind the plate this season after the outing, holding hitters to a .265/.280/.347 line when working with the backup in D.C. (versus a 5.55 ERA and .313/.368/.493 line against in 13 starts and 71 1⁄3 IP working w/ No. 1 starter Keibert Ruiz).
It didn’t get off to a good start yesterday, however, with shortstop Matt McClain doubling to left with one out, and scoring on a Jonathan India single, 1-0. Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer followed with singles, with India scoring on Steer’s, a pop to short left-center, where a trio of Nationals converged and CJ Abrams lost it at the last minute and let it drop in for an RBI hit, 2-0. Corbin held it there, but he and the Nationals were down 2-0 after a 23-pitch top of the first.
Corbin worked around a single and a walk in a 19-pitch second, but De La Cruz singled and Steer walked to start the Reds’ third, and one out later, Nick Senzel got a 2-0 slider up in the zone and hit it 396 ft. to left field for a 3-run blast and a 5-0 Reds’ lead.
India hit an 0-1 slider up in the zone over the middle out to left-center for a two-out solo HR in the fourth, 6-1, connecting for his 12th. De La Cruz and Steer hit back-to-back, two-out singles off the Nats’ starter, who was up to 75 pitches total after Steer’s second hit of the game (2 for 2, 1 BB), and a walk to Tyler Stephenson loaded the bases with two out, but a fly to right ended the threat.
Corbin walked a batter with two out in the fifth, and an error on a pickoff attempt put the runner in scoring position, but the starter stranded him at the end of a 13-pitch frame that left him at 93 total.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 2 HRs, 93 P, 59 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
“Up, everything’s up,” his manager said in summing up Corbin’s struggles after what ended up an 8-4 loss to the Reds.
“That’s about the gist of it. When he throws the ball up he gets hit pretty hard, so he’s got to get the ball down.”
“I made a couple mistakes today,” Corbin told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I just wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be. I’ll try to correct that going into the next one.”
• Trailing 5-0 in the third, CJ Abrams doubled to right for the first hit off 23-year-old Reds’ starter Brett Kennedy, took third on Derek Hill’s groundout, and scored on a sac fly out to center by Lane Thomas which got the Nationals on the board, down 5-1.
• Abrams doubled to left on a 2-1 sinker low in the zone from Kennedy with two out in the bottom of the fifth, and scored on a two-out RBI single by Derek Hill, 6-2. Lane Thomas’s 23rd double of the year kept the inning alive, but a fly to center ended the threat.
• Jeimer Candelario walked and Dominic Smith singled off of the Reds’ starter in the home-half of the sixth, knocking him out of the game, and Joey Meneses followed with a line drive RBI single off of reliever Fernando Cruz, 7-3. Corey Dickerson singled to drive Smith in, 7-4.
CJ Abrams (2 for 2, 2 2B, 2 R) stepped in with the bases loaded after Cruz hit catcher Riley Adams, but Abrams K’d swinging over a diving 1-2 splitter for out No. 1. Derek Hill K’d swinging too, for out No. 2, leaving it up to Lane Thomas, who sent a fly to left to end the threat.
Martinez pointed to the “lack of hitting with guys on base,” when he talked about what went wrong in the loss. “Striking out. We struck out bases loaded twice, and then we just struck out again man on first and second. We got to move the baseball, that’s who we are. We got to get a good pitch to get and get ready to hit.”
Cory Abbott gave up a solo shot to center by Jonathan India on the third pitch the Nats’ reliever threw, a 2-0 fastball up and in, and India’s 2nd of the game and 13th of the year made it a 7-2 game in the Reds’ favor in the sixth.
Abbott worked around a single and a walk in the seventh, and he came back out in the top of the eighth, and walked the first batter he faced, Matt McClain, who took second base on a groundout and stole third before he scored on a sac fly by Elly De La Cruz, 8-4 Reds.
Jose A. Ferrer kept it a four-run game with a scoreless ninth, but the Nationals came up empty in the home-half of the inning.
BACK PAGE - Jose A. Ferrer Gets Extended Shot:
Jose A. Ferrer, the Nationals’ 23-year-old lefty, is, “…a native of Maimόn, Dominican Republic [who] signed with the Nationals as a non-drafted free-agent on July 2, 2017,” and pitched at Low-A, High-A, and Double-A in in the Nats’ system in 2022, and put up a 3.83 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 20 walks (4.50 BB/9), and 33 Ks (7.43 K/9) in 34 games and 40 IP at Triple-A this year before he got the call to join the big league club late last month.
“Ferrer did not allow a run in his final five games since June 17,” Washington’s PR department noted once the southpaw got the call, “… and [he] held opponents to a .158 average (3-for-19) [in that stretch]. He struck out nine in 6.0 innings over that span, including striking out the side on June 22 against Omaha (KCR).”
“The last couple of outings, he’s thrown the ball a lot better,” manager Davey Martinez said once Ferrer came up. “Finding the strike zone a little bit more.”
“He tweaked his mechanics a little bit,” Martinez added. “So we’ll see. I’m glad he’s here because we’ll get eyes on him.”
Ferrer told reporters, as quoted by MASN writer Bobby Blanco, his time at Triple-A Rochester this season gave him a confidence boost before he got his first big league opportunity.
“A lot of things have changed,” he said. “But the good thing, I guess, is playing with teammates in Triple-A that already a lot of them have big league experience. So you learn a lot. And also facing guys that have big league experience has taught me a lot as well. Just how to approach the game.”
Ferrer made two scoreless appearances out of the bullpen on the Nationals recently-completed road trip, and an injury to reliever Thaddeus Ward created an opportunity for the left-handed to hang around in the majors a bit longer to continue soak things up and learn at the big league level.
“We get a chance to keep him a little longer and see how he does,” manager Davey Martinez said on Monday afternoon in D.C. “He’s done well the first two outings he’s pitched. Today we’ll have to see how he’s feeling because those guys down there don’t really go back-to-back days like that, nevertheless pitch three days in a row, so we’ll see how he feels today. But he’s throwing the ball well. The biggest thing I love is he’s throwing strikes. It’s something that I talked to him about when he got here. ‘It doesn’t matter how hard you throw, or what you throw. It’s about throwing strike one.’ And so far, he’s done that.”
In their short time together thus far the skipper has had a chance to get to know the young lefty a little better. He sent him out with a two-run lead in the finale with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, testing the lefty early in his time in the majors.
Ferrer worked around a leadoff double and a walk in a scoreless frame, with a double play and swinging K after the first two batters reached base.
What has his manager learned about the reliever so far?
“I don’t think anything really bothers him. I mean, I really don’t,” Martinez said. “He’s got a lot of energy, he wants to pitch, he’s hungry to pitch, so like I said, we put him in a pretty big moment yesterday, and he did really well.”
In his third appearance in the majors, Ferrer walked two, struck out two, and kept the Reds off the board.
“I like it,” Martinez said of the lefty’s appearance. “He attacks the strike zone. Today he got a little bit quick, we had to tell him to slow down a little bit, and when he did, he threw strikes again. But he’s attacking the hitters, which I love.”