But Corbin remained calm even without the decision, tossing seven solid innings on a rainy Friday night at Nats Park. He allowed only a Josh Bell solo homer in the second inning and then three other hits, striking out 11 and walking one. Corbin fired 106 pitches, 65 for strikes, but the Nats fell to the Pirates, 6-3 in 10 innings.
“Felt good,” Corbin said. “I thought my slider was really good today and was able to mix my fastball in and out. They’re a pretty aggressive team so if you make mistakes, they’ll pay. I found out in the second inning there, kind of just left the fastball over the plate. But I thought other than that just try to go out there, make quality pitches and just try to go as deep as I could.”
The 11 strikeouts and one run or less allowed by Corbin marked the third time he had pulled off the feat in his career. Ironically, the last time he did that was June 22, 2018, at Pittsburgh. Corbin’s ERA dropped from 3.75 to 2.84. He has allowed only three runs over 13 innings pitching at Nats Park to begin this season.
“He’s pitched well,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “Every start he has kept us in the ball game and we are going to get him a win, I know that. So, he’s just going to keep going, he’s pitching well and every five days when he is out there we know we have a chance to win.”
Bell hit his third homer on an 0-1 pitch in the top of the second, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead. But the Nats rallied to take a 2-1 lead through seven, giving Corbin a great opportunity to earn his first win with his new team. Corbin credited his pregame strategy session with catcher Yan Gomes on deciding how they would feature his slider and it worked to almost to perfection.
“Just being able to take miles an hour off of it for strikes, kind of throw it where I want to,” Corbin said. “We had a good game plan going over with Yan before the game, seeing these guys and knowing they’d probably be pretty aggressive. So just being able to know when you are going to throw it for a strike and when not to and try to bury it when you are ahead of these guys. It’s always been there for me, being able to do something like that. It just makes my fastball better.”
Corbin also did well to contribute offensively, going 2-for-2, including a run-scoring single to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
“Just as a pitcher, (you are) trying to put the bat on the ball and (I) came up with a couple guys on base there,” Corbin recounted. “It wasn’t hit very well but fell in. You are just trying to make it as tough as you can on the opposing pitcher.”
But in the end, it came down to three outs in the eight after Corbin’s job was done. The Nats bullpen allowed the Bucs to score two in the eighth and three in the tenth to win it.
Does that make it more frustrating to Corbin when he goes seven strong and only allows one run to not get that victory?
“Yeah, we want to win obviously,” Corbin said. “I think as a starter if you just keep us in the game and do your job out there, more times than not we’re going to come away with wins. Just try to continue to build off every start, continue to get strong. Have a lot of these (starts) left so I’m just going to try to continue to try and get better and better (with) each one.”