PHOENIX — It was a tough act of follow, but Patrick Corbin handled it nicely.
Did we really expect anything different?
Corbin’s double-double — he recorded his 10th victory on a day he tied his career high with 10 strikeouts — capped the kind of weekend series that could lead some to believe that not only is the Diamondbacks’ best baseball ahead of them but that they deserve their place atop in the NL West.
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Corbin gave up three hits and had one of five doubles as the D-backs completed a three-game sweep of the Rockies with a 6-1 victory that upped their winning streak to a season-high five games and kept their NL West lead at 4 1/2 games.
Starters Tyler Skaggs, Wade Miley and Corbin all went eight innings in the series, which not only helped rest a weary bullpen but also was more typical of the starting pitching the D-backs believed they would get this season. The series came on the heels of a stretch in which a starter did not record a victory for 24 straight games.
“They did a great job,” Corbin said of Skaggs and Miley. “I wanted to go out and do better than them. I think that is what all of us are trying to do. When we are putting up runs early like that, it makes it a little easier on us. I feel like we can throw our game a little bit more.”
It was Corbin’s seventh try at his 10th win, a dry spell that said more about the D-backs’ inability to score early and/or often than it did about Corbin’s effectiveness. He made four quality starts in his previous six outings after getting to 9-0 by beating the Cubs on June 2.
“He deserved it a long time ago. He should be 15-0” catcher Miguel Montero said. “Obviously he hasn’t gotten run support. It’s been tough. I’m pretty sure its a weight off his shoulders to get that 10th ‘W.'”
Montero talks the way he swings, without holding back, and he is right about Corbin. The bullpen failed to hold three ninth-inning leads in games he started, although the D-backs came back to win all those games. They are 16-2 in his 18 starts this year.
“Today he had good run support and built up his confidence level, made him a little more comfortable about going out there and pounding the strike zone. He’s been outstanding,” Montero said.
The D-backs, who had 16 extra-base hits in the series, struck early and often in support of all three of their left-handers in the series. They scored two runs in the first three innings of Skaggs’ 5-0 victory Friday, had five in the first three innings in Miley’s 11-1 win Saturday and had four runs through three innings Sunday.
Paul Goldschmidt had RBIs in all three games, and his third-inning double capped a three-run inning for a 4-0 lead Sunday, upping his NL-leading RBI total to 74.
The Diamondbacks have thrived in late-inning situations this season, as a major-league-best 20 victories in their final at-bat and 10 victories in extra innings attest. But they have made it a priority to start earlier.
“In late innings, for some reason, our approaches are really good,” third baseman Eric Chavez said. “A lot of times, in innings one through five and six, we don’t do much. We had a little meeting in New York about having better approaches in the game and trying to put up runs early.”
It worked this weekend, when the D-backs opened a 10-game homestand that continues with series against the Dodgers and Brewers before the All-Star break. They scored 22 runs in 24 innings and never saw the last of the ninth.
Colorado had two runs and 12 hits in the series, and Corbin continued his domination against the Rockies this season. He is 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and both of his 10-strikeouts games against them.
After Corbin struck out 10 in a 5-1 complete game at Coors Field on May 20, veteran Rockies first baseman Todd Helton called Corbin’s slider the best he has ever seen, and he used it again to great advantage again Sunday.
“I went to it when I got to two strikes, and I remember the last time they swung at it, so it was kind of something I remembered and hopefully they are swinging at it again,” Corbin said.