Corbin shelled as Nats are swept by Mets (updated)

The Nationals came home Sunday evening rightfully feeling good about themselves after a winning road trip against a pair of contenders. Next up: a three-game series against a Mets team in disarray in advance of its weekend trip to London to face the Phillies.

What ensued: A three-game sweep at the hands of that supposedly unraveling Mets club that featured two ugly pitching performances, an injury to one of the team’s best starters to date and precious little production from a lineup that has been the roster’s weak link for two months now.

Consider today’s 9-1 shellacking before the fans who waited out a rain delay a new low point to the season. Patrick Corbin was rocked once again. The Nationals lineup looked helpless against Luis Severino. And by day’s end, it was Davey Martinez’s bunch that looked ready to leave town, not the guys heading to England.

"Rough series," Martinez said. "But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got another tough team coming in (the Braves this weekend). We've got to be ready to play tomorrow."

Outscored 23-11 during the sweep, the Nats held a lead after only one of the 27 innings they played. They saw MacKenzie Gore get roughed up for six runs in 4 1/3 innings Monday. They made David Peterson throw only 81 pitches in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday. And today they suffered the worst of both worlds, with Corbin shelled for six runs in 5 1/3 innings while the lineup made Severino throw only 72 pitches through seven scoreless innings before finally plating a run in the eighth.

"It's a tough balance, because if the guy's throwing strikes, you can't really do much," first baseman Joey Gallo said. "You've got to try to put the bat on the ball. You can't just stand there and hope he throws seven pitches. ... You don't want to just be taking pitches. That's a credit to them as well, the pitcher. He's throwing strikes and making pitches, it's always going to be tougher for an offense."

The lack of offense was tough enough to watch. The lack of any patience whatsoever at the plate, leading to some of the shortest half-innings you’re ever likely to see at this level, was even tougher to stomach.

With an overnight flight across the pond, the Mets faced a tight schedule today. So a rain delay had to be the last thing they wanted. But a rain delay is what they got after a heavy storm cell swept through town mid-afternoon and pushed the scheduled 4:05 p.m. start time back 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Once the proceedings got underway, the two teams played at a breakneck pace that felt like someone had a plane to catch. (Oh wait, someone did.)

The first five innings were completed in a stunning 56 minutes, the byproduct of a lot of strikes thrown by both starting pitchers, a lot of swings taken by both lineups and a fair share of impressive plays made in the field by both clubs.

Luis García Jr. made two star-quality plays at second base in the first two innings. Jacob Young covered all kinds of ground in center field to track down deep fly balls. On the other side, Pete Alonso was diving all around first base to rob the Nats of potential hits and starting double plays.

"Early on, I think we lined out five or six times," Martinez said. "We were on the fastball. We just couldn't show nothing for it."

The Mets led 2-0 after five thanks to a homer by No. 9 batter Luis Torrens and a triple by right fielder Tyrone Taylor (a late replacement for Starling Marte). Corbin managed to keep the damage there to that point and at least give his teammates a chance.

"I don't know if I really like that (super-fast pace) or not," Corbin said. "Sometimes I like long innings when I'm sitting there on the bench. But sometimes those games happen. He pitched very well tonight against us."

Then came the top of the sixth, when the wheels came flying off in disastrous fashion. Corbin faced five batters in the inning, five at-bats that resulted in the following: Torrens’ second homer of the day, a back-to-back shot by Francisco Lindor, a double by Alonso, a strikeout of Brandon Nimmo and then a single by J.D. Martinez that finally brought the manager out of the dugout.

"Patrick, he had four balls that were left up," Davey Martinez said. "And he paid the price for it."

Not that the subsequent pitching change helped. Jordan Weems gave up hits to three of the first four batters he faced, with two runs charged to Corbin and two to himself, ultimately making this once-tight ballgame an 8-0 blowout.

"Maybe the third time through (the order), pitches were elevated just a little bit," the left-hander said. "We got ahead pretty well today, and then just a couple pitches there late that kind of separated the lead for them."

So it was that Corbin officially gave up at least six runs for the fourth time this season. His ERA is now 6.15. He has surrendered eight homers in his last three starts.

In somewhat-related news, Josiah Gray is finally ready to begin his rehab assignment Sunday and is likely to be ready to come off the 15-day injured list in 2-3 weeks. Cade Cavalli, returning from Tommy John surgery, could be ready to make his much-anticipated 2024 debut shortly after that. The Nationals will have a very difficult time justifying a continued place for Corbin in their rotation soon enough.

"We're not quite there yet," Martinez said. "Look, he's been keeping us in games. He's the one guy that we always count on when things go awry, that he's going to give us six innings. Give our bullpen a break. He pitches good enough. We don't score runs. We've got to get him some run support. He'll be fine. But we'll see what happens here in the next few weeks. We're still not quite there. We're not quite healthy enough. We'll see what happens."

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