PHOENIX — Patrick Corbin entered the sixth month of his first full major league season Sunday, a long haul for even the most veteran of major leaguers.
And while Corbin said several times after an 8-2 loss to the Giants that it is location, not fatigue, that has caused him to struggle in his last two starts, the Diamondbacks have talked about going to a six-man rotation in September to save some of his innings for next season.
Nothing has been decided, manager Kirk Gibson said, and it seems likely that the D-backs will continue with five starters as long as they are within shouting distance of the Reds in the race for the second NL wild card. They remain five games back after Cincinnati lost again in Colorado on Sunday.
But as far as fatigue, well, Gibson knows something about that from his long major league career.
“Who’s not tired? C’mon,” Gibson said after the game. “I’m sure he is. Everybody’s fatigued. Everybody has 180 innings on them. They’re tired. This is the first time he has really gone through it in the big leagues. Something he’ll learn from.”
Corbin, who is up to 182 2/3 innings this season, has given up 13 earned runs in his last two starts, five in five innings against the Giants on Sunday and eight in Philadelphia the previous Sunday. He had given up as many as five runs only once in his previous 25 starts.
Corbin logged 186 1/3 innings at three levels last season, but not all were as strenuous, and only 107 were in the major leagues. He spent some of his time with the D-backs pitching out of the bullpen, too.
On Sunday, the Giants chipped away with one run in the second inning, three in the fourth and another on a Hunter Pence home run in the fifth, taking a 5-1 lead that turned out to be more than enough for former D-backs right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.
The Giants scored all their runs in the fourth inning with two outs, after Corbin got two-thirds of the way through stranding runners on second and third with no out. With two down, Hector Sanchez hit a top-of-the-knees slider to left-center drive in two for a 3-1 lead, and Petit then lined a single down the right-field line to drive in the third run of the inning. It was Petit’s fourth hit in 70 career at-bats.
“That was a tough inning,” Gibson said. “He made some good pitches early, then it kind of got away. His glove-side fastball, he was having a hard time getting that in for a strike like he usually does. His breaking stuff, it was hard to get it over there as well. Everything just kind of ended up out over the plate.”
Corbin has built his 13-5 record this season by locating his fastball on both sides of the plate and keeping his slider low in the strike zone, if not out of the strike zone, but the pitch to Sanchez was just a bit up.
“Probably should have buried it, a pitch that he can’t even touch the ball” Corbin said. “I just left it up, and I felt like I did that quite a bit away. When I was trying to come in, fastballs in, I left them up and away. I just really wasn’t locating my fastball so well.”
Pence, who had three hits, hit a high-and-outside fastball for a home run just inside the right-field foul pole, his opposite field.
But any notion that the high workload is a factor is not one Corbin is willing to accept.
“I feel fine. I know it’s baseball. It’s tough. It can be as good as it can get and as bad just as fast. the last two games, I just haven’t been as sharp. My arm feels great. It’s just later in the season this is happening. I just want to keep going out there to pitch. Hopefully get some better ones under my belt,” he said.
“I pitched this late into (last) season. It just wasn’t my day the last two starts. Location is probably the biggest thing right now. When they had guys in scoring position, I didn’t make my pitch today like I normally have been doing. Hopefully next time go out there and work on that.”