Patrick Corbin battled through six innings as the Nationals dropped the Phillies 7-2.
The left-hander’s pitch count was up, but he never let the Phillies enjoy a big hit. Former Nats slugger Bryce Harper was never able to change the momentum. Harper singled in the first inning. But Corbin rebounded to strike him out swinging in the third inning on a 94 mph fastball. He walked Harper in the sixth, Harper came around to score the first run for the Phillies.
“He had a really good fastball,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said of his starter. “And the plan was to get the ball up at times, and he did that well. But he pitched, he got into a little bit of a jam but pitched out of it. He pitched well. I know they laid off his slider a lot, it was kind of short. But he threw some pretty good ones as well.”
Corbin (14-7) had to work for those six frames as the Phillies started holding off on the low slider. The southpaw pitched around four walks and allowed only two singles and a double, striking out six. Corbin finished with 108 pitches, 64 for strikes.
“My fastball felt really good today,” Corbin said. “I thought I was able to locate it. I found some two-seamers that were close, just missing a little bit, but felt really good about it. Kind of kept them off balance. Didn’t want to leave any breaking balls there for them to do some damage with, so kind of a little bit of everything.”
The toughest inning was the sixth. With the Nats holding a 5-0 advantage, Harper walked to lead off the frame. Scott Kingery doubled to put runners at second and third.
But Corbin induced a weak grounder in front of the plate from heavy hitter Rhys Hoskins that Yan Gomes easily picked up and threw to first for the out. José Pirela walked to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, César Hernández grounded to third base. Anthony Rendon stepped on the bag for the second out, but his throw to Howie Kendrick went wide. Harper scored from third and Rendon got tagged with the error on the fielder’s choice. With runners on the corners, Corbin struck out Adam Haseley looking to end the threat.
“They have a lot of guys there in their lineup you have to be careful with,” Corbin said. “You’re just trying to minimize damage there. It did get my pitch count up a little bit. But I think to just give up one there and the offense came back, scored some runs, definitely was a big part of the game.”
Martinez said Corbin showed what he was capable of as pitcher when the Phillies stopped going after his slider.
“His fastball was working, and when they’re not chasing on the slider, he made some adjustments,” Martinez said. “him and Yan (Gomes) talked and they were able to go up with his fastball. His fastball had some life to it today.”
The outing emphasized that Corbin is more than just a fastball-to-set-up-his-slider pitcher. In some ways Monday night, it was the other way around.
“I just treat it like any other game,” Corbin said. “You try to just go out there and do your job and just try to put up as many zeroes as I could. We got those three runs early, and then they added on late, so that was good to see. It was good. I thought, defensively, we played well today. Offensively as well. The bullpen came in and did a great job. A lot of good things to take away from today.”
The southpaw has been the most consistent starter recently for the Nats. In his last 18 starts, Corbin has posted an incredible 2.24 ERA, going 9-2. If the Nats can make the postseason and then stay in the playoffs, Corbin could be a major reason why.