The Nationals’ rotation was dealt a significant blow Tuesday with the news of Max Scherzer joining Stephen Strasburg on the injured list, leaving the club down two of its three ace starting pitchers. A few hours later, the third did his best to keep the Nationals in the playoff hunt as Patrick Corbin pitched into the ninth inning in an 8-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Corbin entered the game with a 6.21 ERA on the year. He had gone five straight appearances without a quality start but turned things around against the lowly Pirates, one of only two teams to score fewer runs than the Nationals this season.
The veteran left-hander didn’t allow a baserunner to get past second base until the seventh inning, at one point retiring 12 of 14 Pittsburgh batters. Corbin finished with one run allowed over eight and third innings, falling two outs short of the complete game after allowing a pair of hits in the ninth. Reliever Justin Miller, making his first MLB appearance since 2019, secured the final two outs to give Corbin and the Nationals the win.
“I felt the same that I have [all season],” Corbin said on a Zoom call after the game. “It’s just been a frustrating first third of the season for me and I’ve just tried to continue to keep working hard…kinda felt in a groove all night with Yan [Gomes]. To pitch that deep in a game, I really wanted to finish it there. So that’s the one thing but all around, defense was great tonight. That’s fun when they’re behind you making plays like that, it makes pitching a lot easier.”
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Corbin’s outing was his strikeout total of seven for the game. He’s exceeded that total only once this year. Gomes said after the game that the Nationals wanted to attack the Pirates’ lineup, which has a reputation for being aggressive swinging the bat.
Gomes played a big part in the victory as well, smacking a grand slam off Pirates starter Tyler Anderson in the first inning to help the Nationals jump ahead 5-0. Trea Turner and Jordy Mercer combined for seven hits as Washington won its third straight game and moved to 29-35 on the year.