Corbin struggles early on, Nats cannot recover in 7-3 loss (updated)

BALTIMORE - Left-hander Patrick Corbin struggled from the start, unable to get his bread-and-butter slider over for the usual swings and misses.

The Orioles scored two runs in each of the first two frames to race out to an early lead and coast from there, 7-3 over the Nationals, tying the series up at a game apiece. The Nats fall to 7-11.

The Orioles pounded out 13 hits on the night, tallying at least one base hit in every inning. Corbin gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings. He walked one, had one wild pitch and struck out two. He threw 94 pitches on the night, 61 for strikes. In struggling to get outs in the first inning, he was taxed for 28 pitches.

“It felt all right, but I was falling behind guys, not being able to finish really,” Corbin said on the postgame Zoom video call. “It seemed like from the start of the game until I was done. They had some long at-bats, wasn’t able to put guys away. Just one of those nights where things weren’t really working for me.”

The Orioles quickly jumped ahead in the bottom of the first, and it all started thanks to a free pass.

With one out, Anthony Santander walked. José Iglesias doubled down the left field line to put two men in scoring position. With two outs, former Nats catcher Pedro Severino also doubled down the left field line, and the Birds led 2-0.

Thumbnail image for Corbin-Delivers-Blue-Front-WS-G4-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles kept hitting the ball well against Corbin in the second. With one out, Bryan Holaday singled. Andrew Velazquez followed with a triple deep into the right field corner, the first of his career. The extra-base hit scored Holaday all the way from first base. The relay from right field to Yan Gomes and subsequent tag were late. The Orioles led 4-0 after two innings.

“I thought his slider wasn’t as sharp as it normally is,” said manager Davey Martinez in the postgame Zoom video call. “It was just up. When he tried to get it down, he threw it too far down. So he got behind and left some balls up. Our biggest thing with him is I asked him if he was OK, and he mentioned that this is the best he has felt all year. So that’s good, but his location was not good today. He battled through five innings, pitch count up and we had to get him out of there.”

The Nats cut the advantage in half in the fourth, thanks to Juan Soto. After an Adam Eaton single to left field, Soto unloaded to center field on a low, biting curveball and powered it over the fence on pure strength for his sixth homer of the season. The two-run shot cut the Orioles’ lead to 4-2. After the homer, his batting average rose to .429 and his OPS was 1.516.

“That’s who he is,” said Martinez. “When he gets in trouble, he starts trying to pull everything. I think he is making a conscious effort right now to really stay in the middle of the field. When he does that, he gets to balls. His swing stays in the zone for such a long time and he is able to do that. If you are sitting in the dugout and watching from my view, man, it’s a beautiful thing. It really is.

“If I had to do it all over again and start playing right now, he’d be the guy I’d want my kid to watch hit because he’s got that swing. He stays back and he uses his hands and tried to stay in the middle of the field. When I grow up in my next life, I want to be just like Juan Soto.”

One batter later, Eric Thames drove a pitch to the warning track in right-center field, but it was caught for the second out. Thames, still searching for his first homer with the Nats, was extremely upset in the dugout after that at-bat.

Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz answered quickly against Corbin in fourth. His solo homer to right field made it 5-2 Orioles.

The Nats helped the Orioles along a bit when the next batter, Holaday, reached on a Trea Turner fielding error. Velazquez then singled down the right field line. But Corbin rebounded, inducing a grounder to Luis García off the bat of Santander. The 4-6-3 double play ended the inning.

The Nats looked to get back into the game in the sixth. Turner turned on Wojciechowski’s first pitch and deposited it into the left field stands, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 5-3. It was Turner’s fourth homer of the year. But Tanner Scott replaced Wojciechowski and notched three quick outs to end the frame.

“The first two at-bats, for me, he didn’t really make any mistakes,” Turner said of Wojciechowski during the postgame Zoom video call. “Think I saw maybe six pitches, and only one of them was in the middle of the zone, and that was the base hit up the middle. And then my second at-bat he spot up two breaking balls really well and got me to ground into the double play. Just felt like he was hitting spots. We battled him, put a few runs up there, but he made some good pitches.”

Wojciechowski notched the win, allowing three runs on five hits over five innings, plus one batter.

Hanser Alberto added an RBI double off of Kyle Finnegan in the sixth to make it 6-3 Orioles. The run was charged to Javy Guerra. Dakota Bacus pitched a scoreless seventh. Wander Suero gave up an RBI single to Iglesias in the eighth.

Turner collided with Victor Robles going after a bloop single by Santander in the eighth. The shortstop stayed down for a bit, was assisted by director of athletic training Paul Lessard and manager Davey Martinez, but eventually stayed in the game and was OK.

“Just going for the ball,” Turner said. “I don’t think I heard either of them call it, and I didn’t call it as well, but just going after it hard. Tried to get out of the way and we kind of veered the same way and he got me pretty good, but I feel like I shook it off fairly quick and feel fine.”

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