CINCINNATI -- Wednesday marked Patrick Corbin's 28th birthday. And for a present, the D-backs' pitcher found out he was going to start Thursday's series finale against the Reds.
Corbin -- who was originally scheduled to face the Nationals on Friday -- got a call from Arizona pitching coach Mike Butcher at 1:30 a.m. Thursday letting him know that he would have to fill in for Taijuan Walker, who had to head back to Phoenix for the birth of his first child. Less than 12 hours later, the left-hander took the mound and shined over 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run while walking one and striking out six in Arizona's 12-2 victory. It was Corbin's first win since June 16.
"It's just a different feeling when you know you're pitching the next day," Corbin said. "There's a routine that you have. But ... sometimes it's better to just go out there and wing it and just try to make pitches and trust your catcher."
Corbin, who last pitched Saturday, got through the first three innings in just 33 pitches. He ran into some trouble in the fourth, however.
After giving up a solo home run to Eugenio Suarez to lead off the inning, Corbin allowed three straight singles to load the bases. The D-backs were in danger of losing their lead, but Corbin was able to pick up a strikeout and induce two popups to end the inning.
"It couldn't have worked out any better," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "Once in a while you think about and dream about a ground ball double play, but he did it himself. He took care of business the way he wanted to ... and he was standing on his stuff. It's not like he was backing down and picking at the zone. He really went after the hitters and responded very well."
Corbin has gone through his fair share of struggles this season. In five May starts, he had a 9.00 ERA and opponents had a 1.050 OPS against him. But over his last eight outings, he has racked up five quality starts while posting a 3.04 ERA.
Thursday's win was confirmation of his improvement over the last month and a half.
"He's been throwing the ball well in June and just didn't have anything to show for it," Lovullo said. "And I know that he's throwing the ball good enough to get wins, and that's all we ask our guys to do."
Another plus that came out of Corbin's performance for the D-backs was that it allows them some flexibility over their rotation for the next several days. Matt Koch was called up from Triple-A Reno on Thursday to take Walker's spot on the roster. Lovullo said before the game he might have used Koch if Corbin got into trouble, but that didn't happen and it opens the possibility that Koch could start Friday.
It's likely that either Koch or Zack Godley will get the nod Friday and the other will pitch Saturday. Whatever the case, not using Koch on Thursday allows the rest of the rotation to stay on a normal schedule, and saves Arizona from having to find another starter this weekend, given that Walker will likely be back to make his next scheduled start.