Corbin shakes off first-inning struggles

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Patrick Corbin has allowed 12 runs so far in 18 innings this spring, but more notable is the fact seven of those runs have been scored in the first inning of his starts.

It’s not uncommon for pitchers, especially the elite ones, to have more trouble in the first inning than any other frame. But this isn’t common territory for Corbin, who last season with Arizona posted a sparkling 0.82 ERA in the first inning.

So the left-hander isn’t about to raise any red flags or overthink his pregame warmup routine, certainly not while the calendar still reads March.

Corbin Bullpen Nats Sidebar.jpg“It’s just a couple games in a row where you give up a run here or there,” he said. “But it’s spring training, and I think my routine has been pretty solid where I’ve been able to go out there and do well. I think I did really well last year with it. It just happened to be a couple of games where I gave up a couple of runs here and there.”

It happened again today during the Nationals’ 7-1 exhibition loss to the Marlins. Corbin gave up two runs in the top of the first via back-to-back doubles by Brian Anderson and Peter O’Brien, though one of those runs was unearned as a result of Anthony Rendon’s throwing error.

The good news: Corbin settled down nicely after that and retired 11 of the next 13 batters he faced, four via strikeout. The bad news: He labored again in his fifth and final inning, surrendering five singles and allowing three more runs to cross the plate before he was done for the afternoon.

Again, Corbin wasn’t so much concerned with the results as the process. Several of the hits came with two strikes, including a base hit to right by the opposing pitcher, Caleb Smith, off an 0-2 pitch.

“I’ve been throwing quality strikes,” Corbin said. “I haven’t been walking guys. I’ve been giving up some hits here and there. I just have to try to finish guys off, and I feel confident I’ll be able to do that.”

Corbin, who got his pitch count up to 85 today, has one more exhibition start (likely Sunday against the Astros in the Grapefruit League finale) before he’ll be taking the mound at Nationals Park to face the Mets in the season’s opening weekend.

“You obviously want good results and good numbers, but I’m happy with how I’m feeling,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger and ready to take on the season.”

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