The D-backs and Nationals found themselves in a slugfest early in Thursday’s game at Nationals Park. When it was over, it was Arizona who ended up on top, 11-6. The D-backs broke their two-game skid, improving to 5-8.
The first inning saw the clubs trade blows. Arizona scored three runs in the first inning off left-hander Patrick Corbin. Carson Kelly and Eduardo Escobar hit consecutive homers to give the D-backs a 2-0 lead. Four batters later, Nick Ahmed came home on a single by Wyatt Mathisen.
But Washington took the lead in the bottom half by scoring four runs off right-hander Merrill Kelly. The biggest blow came when Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer.
It simply wasn’t Corbin’s night. The D-backs had 11 hitters come to the plate the following inning and scored seven runs. Andrew Young highlighted the scoring with a grand slam over the right-field wall to take a 10-4 lead.
Forgotten was the fact that Young was having an adventure playing left field. He misjudged a couple of fly balls that helped Washington score those four runs in the first. He could have caught Juan Soto’s single and Josh Bell’s ground-rule double.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo knows Young is a below average defender, but he loves his approach at the plate.
“[Young] takes it seriously, but those are growing pains. That happens for a lot of young players,” Lovullo said. “I thought he showed some amazing mental toughness.”
Young made up for the defensive miscues by taking Corbin deep.
“I was trying to stay on the heater and react to everything else,” he said. “He wasn’t overpowering many hitters in the lineup. So, I thought I could adjust to it. He threw me three changeups in a row. The last pitch was up and elevated. I just kind of went with it. That’s what my approach was.”
Corbin can’t figure out why he was out of whack during his two innings on the mound.
"I can’t really point to one thing, really. Looked at some video. I feel OK. Not quite sure there,” Corbin said. “Just trying to move on past this one, continue to work, get on a schedule here and hopefully have some better outcomes. It’s frustrating."
Lovullo said those two innings against Corbin were built on patient approaches.
“We had [several] walks, I know a number of hit by [pitches] and just created traffic,” Lovullo said. “Guys were driving the ball and we were scoring a lot of runs early.”
It proved to be enough for Arizona. After that, the offense dried until the eighth inning when Pavin Smith hit a solo homer off right-hander Daniel Hudson.
Kelly settled down and lasted until the seventh inning when he allowed back-to-back singles to Jordy Mercer and Trea Turner.
“He was making quality pitches early in the count, whether it was a breaking ball or a located fastball,” Lovullo said of Kelly. “He was trusting what was going on behind him. He was attacking the zone and attacking his spots.”
It then became a bullpen game when Alex Young, Yoan López, Anthony Swarzak and Stefan Crichton held the Nationals in check.
“It was a great night for us in a lot of different areas,” Lovullo said. “You climb on the starting pitcher for three early runs and you follow that up for several more the next inning. You talk about effort, focus, we stayed right with it.”