When the Marlins' Miguel Rojas smacked a three-run homer in the second inning Friday night, some had to worry that this might be a repeat of what happened to Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin in his previous start.
On Aug. 15, Corbin allowed the Orioles to score two runs in each of the first two innings on their way to a 7-3 victory over the Nats in Baltimore.
The left-hander recorded the first out of the seventh but then allowed back-to-back hits to Rojas and Jonathan Villar before manager Davey Martinez decided to go to the bullpen. Tanner Rainey stopped that Marlins scoring attempt, keeping the door open for a Nats rally that never materialized.
Corbin allowed only those three runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out a season-high nine, walking two. He threw 102 pitches, 66 for strikes as his record fell to 2-2.
"I felt pretty good," Corbin said during the postgame Zoom video call. "That pitch that was a homer was a heater, just fell behind 2-0 and I was right down the middle, so just a mistake there. I felt like I was in the zone better today. Felt under control. Two-seamer was working well, slider was there, threw some slow breaking balls as well."
Yan Gomes, who hit a home run for the Nats, said that often when a pitcher gives up a few runs early it can hinder his ability to remain focused and stay with the game plan. But not for Corbin, who got back on track quickly.
Following the Rojas homer, Corbin was able to mix his patented slider and fastball enough to keep Miami away from another run.
"He was kind of nit-picking a little bit with some guys and we had to make some pitches, but he was able to get out of some big innings," Gomes said. "I know that three-run (homer) early, usually the way we can play we try and make a comeback.
"He kept it going. To go into the seventh inning, that's pretty impressive on his own. He kept us in the ballgame. At any point like that when you give up a three-run homer you can kind of lose your rhythm. He gave us a heck of an outing. We wish we could have picked him up."
Corbin explained how he tried to erase from his mind that he had given up the homer in just the second inning.
"Just when they jump on you early there you're trying just to keep us in the game and put as many zeros on the board," Corbin said. "It was good to get into the seventh there. Wanted to finish it myself, but gave up a couple hits. The bullpen came in and put up a couple zeros to keep us in the game."
The skipper said it is never a given that a starter can rebound when he allows the opponent to jump out to a 3-0 lead. But Corbin did, and managed to save the Nats bullpen by extending all the way into the seventh.
"It was awesome. He had really good stuff tonight," Martinez said. "He made one bad mistake and cost him the three runs, but other than that he was really, really good. That was great to see. He had 100-plus pitches, went through six, Rainey came in and shut the door down that inning."
Martinez confirmed that Max Scherzer will start the opener of Saturday's doubleheader, and said Erick Fedde could pitch the nightcap. He also would not reveal yet who the 29th player will be for the twinbill. Each team is allowed to carry one extra player when playing doubleheaders.
Corbin is never happy to give up a home run with men on base, but considering he gave up five runs in five innings in his last start at Baltimore, this was a nice return to the form he displayed last season.
"I think it's each time out there gradually getting better and better," Corbin said. "Still maybe not exactly where I need to be, but feel pretty good. Just going to try continue to do that, even though I maybe have five or so more starts. It's gone by quick, so hopefully we can get something going here and see what happens."