January 29, 2023

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Nats' early burst helps Corbin snap 0-7 start

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Lefty goes 6 1/3 strong frames to pick up his first victory since Sept. 23, 2021
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WASHINGTON — Runs allowed and run support hadn’t intersected many times in Patrick Corbin’s 0-7 start to the season. He entered his ninth outing tied for the fourth-lowest run support among all pitchers, with just 1.8 runs per 27 outs while in the game.

“It got to a point where we were like, ‘When are we going to do this for him?’” Josh Bell said.

After Corbin pitched a scoreless first inning, the Nationals jumped out to an early four-run lead behind an RBI single by Nelson Cruz (who extended his hitting streak to seven games), an RBI double from Bell and a two-run double by Yadiel Hernandez.

Corbin’s teammates gave him a comfortable cushion to work 6 1/3 innings for his first win since Sept. 23, 2021. The southpaw allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks, delivered one wild pitch and struck out three over 80 pitches (54 strikes). It was his second-longest appearance of the season and longest in a home game.

“It’s always good to get a win,” Corbin said. “It stinks it’s this late. I feel I’ve been throwing pretty well. But that’s baseball. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you pitch if their guy’s out there throwing really well. Obviously it’s good, I’m glad it’s behind us and hopefully come back tomorrow and get another win.”

Corbin’s season began with getting the nod as the Opening Day starter. But from there, he exited after just 2 2/3 innings (six runs) vs. the Braves on April 12, followed two appearances later with a 1 2/3-innings start — the second shortest of his career — allowing seven runs to the Giants on April 22. His ERA jumped to 11.20.

Paired with backup catcher Riley Adams, Corbin began to find a rhythm. He threw a complete game on May 4 in Colorado, and then he tossed five scoreless innings against the Mets on May 10. After allowing five runs in each of his previous two starts, Corbin settled in to keep the Rockies at bay on Thursday, while working with catcher Keibert Ruiz.

“The ball was down, which I really liked a lot,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I liked the way he pitched. He’s been pitching well. If he keeps the ground on the ball like that, we’ll win some games behind him.”

Corbin’s first win comes the same week in which starting pitching has been in the spotlight as right-handers Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross made their first rehab starts with Nationals affiliate teams. Strasburg threw a bullpen session on Friday and he is progressing toward his next start, while the team is waiting to determine the extent of Ross’ right elbow injury that caused him to leave his outing early.

While players continue to work through injuries, those who are healthy are tasked with going deeper into games to avoid taxing a heavily-relied-upon bullpen. Corbin’s first victory can be an important step to continuing to deliver quality starts.

“It was going to come,” Martinez said of the win. “I kept telling him, ‘Don’t fight it. Don’t worry about the wins and losses. It’s going to come. Just keep pitching, keep doing what you’re doing.’ Tonight was a perfect example of that. He went out there, he pitched well. He kept us in the game, we scored some runs and he got his first one out of the way.”

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