Heading into All-Star break, the Arizona Diamondbacks have lost five of their six games.
Coming into the All-Star break, lefty Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks needed this kind of effort. Struggling over his past eight starts, Corbin had only two wins in that span and his season record was the only mark below .500 of starting pitchers in the rotation.
Despite a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds before 24,923 in Chase field Sunday, Corbin turned the page and completed a successful outing in which he exhibited greater command of the strike zone. In his previous start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on July 4, Corbin’s pitch count reached 109 when he was lifted during the fifth inning. On Sunday, there was better efficiency and a reasonable springboard into the second half. For the game, Corbin allowed only two runs, surrendered seven hits and tied a season-high with nine strikeouts.
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Afterward, Corbin told Venom Strikes that the outing in Los Angeles was different in that the Dodgers forced the left-hander to pitch from behind. Against the Reds, Corbin had a strong first-pitch effort and hit the strike zone on the initial pitch to a batter 14 times of the 27 hitters faced. That prompted Corbin to explain to Venom Strikes the difference.
"“I made an effort to throw quality pitches,” he said. “My curve was working and the plan was to keep (the Reds) off-balance.”"
The approach worked, and Corbin has now allowed three of fewer runs in his last six starts. Despite his season mark dropping to 6-9, his ERA dropped to 4.71.
While Corbin shows an upward trend at the All-Star break, there are a few ominous clouds on the horizon. Coming into the break, the Diamondbacks managed one run in their last two games against the Reds, and have dropped three of their last four series. With the loss Sunday, they fall below the .600 mark and with the Colorado Rockies surging, the Diamondbacks are only two games ahead of the Rox in the National League West Division.
When the week began, the Diamondbacks headed into Dodger Stadium only 2.5 games behind L. A. Now at the break, the Dodgers have won six straight and lengthen their lead over Arizona to 7.5 games. Since gaining a walk-off win over the Rockies on July 2, the Diamondbacks have scored 14 runs in their last six games.
Manager Torey Lovullo is the first to recognize this trend, but reminded Venom Strikes after the game Sunday that there is great resiliency to his team.
"“We’re not used to scoring one run in 18 innings,” he said. “(Sunday), there was a simple message. I told them after the game they had a productive first half and this team is on the right path. Take the break to get some rest, step away from the game for a few days and then come out swinging for the second half.”"
After the break
While Lovullo made it clear that All-Stars Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke will not pitch in the immediate series following the All-Star game, he did announce the rotation.
"Arizona Diamondbacks: Greinke, Ray held out of up-coming Atlanta series"
Beginning Friday night in Atlanta, righty Taijuan Walker (6-4, 3.65 ERA) will open the second half of the season and draw righthander R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.23) as his mound opponent. On Saturday, it’s Patrick Corbin (6-9, 4.71) taking on righty Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 3.77). In the series finale Sunday, Zack Godley (3-3, 2.58) faces Jaime Garcia (2-7, 4.55).
Following next Monday off, the Diamondbacks move into Cincinnati for three. Greinke and Ray will likely resume their spots in the rotation during the Reds series at Great American Ball Park.