PHOENIX — There could hardly have been a better way for Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin to warm up for his first All-Star appearance.
Corbin overcame a wild first inning Friday night to shut down the Brewers in a 2-1 win before he heads to New York, where he’ll pitch for the NL All-Star Team after an improbable and stellar first half.
“I just wanted to finish on a strong note the first half and continue into the second half,” Corbin said. “I’m just looking forward to the All-Star Game and hopefully having a great time there.”
After putting himself down 1-0 in the first inning with a pair of wild pitches, Corbin settled into a rhythm, notching a career-high-tying 10 strikeouts for the second straight start and earning his 11th win of the season.
Corbin was credited with three wild pitches, tying the franchise record for a single game, but all night managed to work his way out of jams, including a runner on third with no outs in the fourth inning and runners on the corners with no outs in the seventh.
“I just knew I had to make some good pitches and try to get out of it,” Corbin said. “Fortunately I got a couple pop-ups, got a couple strikeouts and got out of those situations.”
Added manger Kirk Gibson: “Patrick doesn’t really get distracted. That’s what we’ve kind of seen over the year. When things go wrong in a game, he seems to move on real good.”
It was a bases-loaded jam that did Corbin in, as Gibson brought in Will Harris, who struck out Carlos Gomez for the final out of the seventh inning. Corbin left with one run allowed on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The win was a fitting way for Corbin to wrap up a first half in which he went from fifth-starter candidate to rotation ace and All-Star. The major leagues didn’t see the young left-hander coming, but Corbin has maintained that he knew he was capable of such success if he applied what he learned in the big league experience he gained last season.
“I just wanted to come in, be consistent and try to get better start by start,” Corbin said. “That’s something I think I’ve done, and I’ve learned a lot. I just want to continue on into the next half and try to keep it going.”
Corbin’s breakout first half has him headed to his home state of New York on Tuesday, when he’ll take the field for the NL All-Star Team at Citi Field. With just three days of rest between now and then, Corbin will likely get no more than an inning of work.
His exclamation point on the first half Friday did not come without a good deal of help, beginning with Harris’ strikeout. From there, the D-backs further displayed their propensity for bullpen dramatics.
It took three relievers to get through the eighth inning, and the fans at Chase Field had to be on edge with deposed closer Heath Bell coming on to get the final out with the bases loaded. Facing Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado with an 0-2 count, Bell served up a curveball, which Maldonado lined softly to center field. It looked like Maldonado’s sinking liner would drop and score at least two runs, but center fielder A.J. Pollock laid out to make a diving, highlight-reel catch to end the inning.
“I think we all rallied behind (Corbin), making plays behind him,” Pollock said. “When he pitches like that, you always want to get him the win.
“I didn’t have too much time to think about anything. It was a couple steps, and obviously I’m diving there.”
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt had already helped preserve Corbin’s effort in the seventh inning, foiling a suicide squeeze with a heads-up charge to catch a popped-up bunt attempt and hold the runner at third.
Corbin got further help from the bullpen in the ninth inning, with David Hernandez serving as the closer of the night. Hernandez’s ninth was a quick, uneventful affair that earned him his second save of the season.
“I’m finally happy to close out a game for Pat and send him off to New York well,” Hernandez said.
Between the defense and bullpen help, the D-backs helped give Corbin the first-half finale he deserved. After the All-Star Game, Corbin will get a well-deserved break. The soon-to-be 24-year-old, who threw 107 innings in the majors last season, has now thrown 130 1/3 innings this season. Gibson has said Corbin won’t pitch in the D-backs’ first series back from the break, rather throwing in the first or second game of the next series.
For his part, Corbin says he’s not feeling fatigued at all but admitted he’s looking forward to a little extra rest after the All-Star Game.
“I feel great, strong and ready to go,” Corbin said. “I’m not tired with the innings I’ve thrown. I just want to keep it going. … A little break is always nice for a starter.”