Corbin solid for six-plus innings, but one defensive miscue changes game

Patrick Corbin put together a quality start for the Nationals on Wednesday night that resulted in a no-decision because of a defensive miscue late in the game. The Phillies won the game, scoring two runs in a decisive seventh inning comeback, 3-2.

With the Nats up 2-1 and Corbin in the mound, the seventh inning started on a triple by Didi Gregorius to left field that Juan Soto made a play for, but the ball got away and rolled toward the warning track. What could have been a single turned into Gregorius standing at third base representing the tying run.

Corbin-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgThat was Corbin’s last batter faced. Manager Davey Martinez said it was a play that his young left fielder can learn from going forward.

“I think you got to understand the situation of the game and where we are at,” Martinez said in the postgame Zoom video call. “Up one run, for me you concede the base hit. He’s young, he’s learning, but you just concede the base hit, you keep him at first base and hope for a double play. He thought he could catch the ball, but in that situation you just want to keep the ball in front of you.”

Corbin was disappointed he was unable to get Gregorius out to start the seventh, but overall was pleased with his sixth start of the season.

“Yeah, I felt pretty good out there, but I’d like to finish that seventh inning there, make a better pitch to Didi. Tried going fastball in there,” Corbin said. “I feel each time I’m out there my arm is feeling better and better. I feel like I am locating better, and just more consistent with all my pitches. Just have to keep working out, keep doing all my things in between, throwing bullpens, things like that, to finish this season strong.”

Gregorius scored when Alec Bohm laced the first pitch from Nats reliever Will Harris into right field for an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. Later in the frame, Philadelphia went ahead to stay on Bryce Harper’s opposite-field single.

But Corbin did quite well on the night, despite that rude exit. In the six innings plus one batter, Corbin scattered seven hits, allowing two runs with two walks and three strikeouts. Corbin has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season.

His strikeouts were down tonight. He tallied only three after punching out a season-high nine last week against the Marlins. But groundouts are just as good, and Corbin induced 10 of them, along with five flyouts on the night.

“Just locating my fastball there on a lot of those. They’ve got some veterans in their lineup, they know what I have,” Corbin said. “I’d like to pitch to some of their weaknesses and things like that, some of my strengths. They got a great lineup over there, I don’t know how well they’ve been swinging as of late, but they did have some tough at-bats, some longer at-bats today, a couple of walks, which is a little frustrating. Just try to continue to build off of this and get better.”

The only other blemish was the Rhys Hoskins solo shot with one out in the third that tied the game at 1-1. Corbin’s curveball to Hoskins was clocked under 65 miles per hour.

“I think it was like 64 mph,” Corbin said. “Usually I locate that a lot better. It was just middle, middle. It looked he almost like sat back on it and pulled the trigger, so it was kind of just one of those things where I thought he was out front a little bit and then let it go. He’s a big, strong guy that if you do something like that, where you throw something slow to try and steal a strike, he can do some damage to you.”

Even with a no-decision, Corbin is still 2-0 with a 2.90 ERA with 33 strikeouts over 31 innings pitched in five starts against the Phillies since joining the Nats.

Yes, the Nats offense has got to get better, and so does the defense. But recent starts from Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez and Max Scherzer have given Martinez hope that the starting rotation - even without Stephen Strasburg - might be able to get into a rhythm with 30-plus games to play.

“He’s been pitching well,” Martinez said of Corbin. “He kept us in the game. He had 95 pitches there, but we thought after the fifth inning he was letting it all out. We asked him to go out and try to get one more hitter because he was a left-handed hitter (Gregorius), thought it was a great matchup.”

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