WASHINGTON -- Beyond strikeouts and final results, one way to gauge the effectiveness of a start for the Nationals is how deep the pitcher throws into his appearance. The relievers have been taxed this season, and the less calls manager Dave Martinez has to make to the bullpen, the better
WASHINGTON -- Beyond strikeouts and final results, one way to gauge the effectiveness of a start for the Nationals is how deep the pitcher throws into his appearance. The relievers have been taxed this season, and the less calls manager Dave Martinez has to make to the bullpen, the better set up the team is for the next game.
A night after the Nats sent eight pitchers to the mound in a 12-inning win over the Braves, left-hander Patrick Corbin gave them seven solid frames on Saturday. While Washington’s offense was stifled by nine strikeouts from Atlanta starter Ian Anderson in a 2-1 loss at Nationals Park, Corbin proved reliable again in a game when his team needed a long outing. He reached seven innings for the first time since Aug. 27, 2019, against the Orioles.
“His hits didn’t cause much damage, and I kind of liked that,” Martinez said. “I often say, you don’t have to strike everybody out. Just get ahead of hitters, and we’ve got good defense. To go seven innings and give up two runs and give us a chance to win, that’s awesome.”
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Corbin set a season high for innings and pitches thrown (108 total, 73 for strikes). He fanned eight and allowed two runs on nine hits. He snapped his streak of five outings in which he allowed a home run, and he did not issue a walk for the first start since his season debut. Corbin relied on his go-to slider for 45 pitches, yielding 25 swings and 11 whiffs.
"It felt good to go out there in that seventh and get through it, finish an inning, to go around 110 pitches there,” Corbin said. “They made me work. That pitch count got up a little bit. [It] was high earlier in the game. Even though I wasn't walking guys, guys put tough at-bats on [me] throughout the whole order. I thought I did make some good pitches throughout the game, gave up some hits, and they made it tough on [me].”
The Nationals needed only one call to the bullpen, for right-hander Kyle McGowin, who held the Braves scoreless in the eighth and ninth. That will help the team keep options available for a quick turnaround on Sunday at 12:35 p.m. ET, especially with lefty Sean Doolittle sidelined (right oblique strain) and Tanner Rainey resting with forearm tightness.
“This whole year has been tough -- starters coming in not really built up to where they usually are,” Corbin said. “We knew the bullpen was going to have to be used a lot more. I think the starters now are getting up there to where they’re able to go deeper and deeper, but I think our bullpen has done a great job for us all year.”
The Nationals had an opportunity for another dramatic victory when they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Victor Robles flied out to end the threat as the Braves’ pitching edged the Nats.
“They’re hot right now. One through nine, they’re a dangerous team,” Corbin said. “To hold them to two runs, you’d think we were going to be in the game -- and we’ll take that.”
Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.