None of that mattered Sunday afternoon as the Nationals secured a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds to avoid a series win at Nationals Park. After six innings from Corbin, in which he allowed two runs (one earned) and five strikes, Washington (43-85) finally broke his streak that long ago broke the record of 35 set by the Washington Senators in 1949. surpassed – and it was at the heads of the Nationals afterwards.
“Everyone knows about this record that was broken today, but we’re not proud of it,” Corbin said. “We did well as employees; A lot of people went out there and gave us a chance.”
After five pitches in Sunday’s game, it seemed Corbin’s turn for another brief outing, allowing back-to-back singles for Jonathan India and Alejo Lopez. After a field error by right fielder Joey Meneses allowed India to move into third place, Corbin found himself in a bind. Kyle Farmer made the choice of a fielder to hit India, but Corbin escaped with no further damage.
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Stuart Fairchild then smashed a solo shot to start the second inning – hitting a bullpen cart well behind the wall in midfield – to give the Reds (50-76) a 2-0 lead.
But after the Nationals scored twice in the fourth, Washington jumped forward when Ildemaro Vargas hit a solo homer in the fifth. Corbin finished the team to stay in position sixth and take the win. He retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced and threw just 82 pitches. He could have gone longer, but manager Dave Martinez approached the bullpen with a day off. Hunter Harvey, Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Finnegan went through the last three innings, with Finnegan making his eighth save.
Corbin had his victory. Former Nationals starter gets one: Josiah Gray in the 3-2 win in Philadelphia on July 6.
“We were very aware of what was going on in here,” Finnegan said of the winning streak. “I think the bullpen lost a couple of these along the way. … To give Pat the win today and sort of put an end to it was great.”
Corbin improved to 5-17. Any decent start gives a glimmer of hope that he’s turned the corner, that he’ll be a little closer to being the pitcher Washington wanted him to be when he signed a six-year, $140 million deal in December 2018.
He may never get back to that point, but he’s looked better in three starts since Martinez skipped his move in the rotation. Corbin said he doesn’t feel any different physically but is a little more relaxed mentally. Sunday’s outing, coupled with just enough insults and a shutdown bullpen, ended a streak the Nationals didn’t want to be a part of.
“For all of us, a win is a win,” Martinez said. “Patrick put it best: It’s a team win. He wanted to go out and compete and we talk about that every day. And he did that today.”
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How did the Nationals get on the board? They scored twice in fourth off Reds left-hander Nick Lodolo, which lasted seven innings. After Lodolo got the minimum by three, César Hernández doubled to open the fourth. Lodolo hit back-to-back batters (Meneses and Luke Voit) to load bases, then led Nelson Cruz in a field that seemingly everyone — even Cruz — seemed to think was strike three.
Riley Adams hit center with two outs to level the score, but third base coach Gary DiSarcina waved Voit home in hopes of forging a 3-2 lead. Voit — certainly not the fastest runner at Nationals — was two paces away even after an off-line throw pulled catcher Austin Romine off the plate.
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Why did Luis García get the day off? Martinez wanted to get the 22-year-old second baseman back in action after rehabilitating a groin injury. García played three rehab games with Class AAA Rochester and then started the first two games of that series.
Before Sunday’s game, García took groundballs and worked on double-play turns with rookie shortstop CJ Abrams. García has done well on the plate – he has a .288 batting average – but his 13 shortstop errors left something to be desired, leading to a move to second when Abrams arrived.