Nationals look for more from Patrick Corbin to open O’s series

MLB

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo recently said he believes his team’s best baseball is ahead.

It the Nationals are indeed going to make a run at the National League East crown, one of the folks he’s talking about is left-hander Patrick Corbin, who starts the series opener Friday night in Baltimore.

Signed as a free agent in December 2018, Corbin was a key piece of the championship rotation in 2019, going 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA. Since then, he’s 8-15 with 5.26 ERA.

After a strong June in which he allowed three runs or fewer in four of his five starts, Corbin has struggled in July. Last time out, he allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Padres.

“His stuff is as good as in 2019,” Rizzo said. “His fastball, he touched 95 (mph) the other day, he was consistently at 92-93. I think that the consistency of his array of breaking pitches has been inconsistent. That’s where he’s been hurt. He’s getting less chases, so he has to throw more fastballs.”

Corbin beat the Orioles on May 23, allowing four runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of a win on May 23. He’s 1-2 (5.06 ERA) in five career games — four starts — versus Baltimore.

Right-hander Jorge Lopez (2-12, 6.04) makes the start for the Orioles.

Lopez had lost six straight starts before getting a no-decision last time out while giving up four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings versus the Kansas City Royals. Three of those runs came in the fifth.

“Lopie’s stuff is really good and he’s having a tough time in that fifth inning the third time through, and I don’t know if his mentality changed,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I know our guys are working hard with him and he’s aware, obviously, and that’s why he was disappointed when he came out that inning.”

Lopez has allowed 22 fifth-inning earned runs this season and has been lifted in that frame five times in his past seven starts.

He is 0-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four appearances (one start) against Washington.

Wednesday began with Orioles placing that day’s scheduled starter, Keegan Akin, and outfielder Anthony Santander on the COVID-19 injured list. Fill-in Alexander Wells was solid in his first major league start but the day ended with a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, who took two of three from the Orioles.

Ryan Mountcastle, who hit .327 with nine homers while winning American League Rookie of the Month honors in June, hit his first home in July. He’s hitting .178 this month.

“It feels like barrels have been tough to find as of late,” Mountcastle said, “but today I felt good at the plate and hopefully I can keep it going moving forward.”

The Nationals, looking to make up ground with six consecutive games against last-place teams, were unable to complete a sweep of the Miami Marlins, losing 3-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday.

Washington, which hadn’t scored fewer than four runs in a game since the All-Star break, hit into four double plays and left seven men on base.

“I was surprised (by the lack of offense),” manager Dave Martinez said. “We had a couple opportunities. We just didn’t hit the ball tonight.”

The Nationals swept a three-game series from the Orioles in May at Nationals Park.

–Field Level Media

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