If the first half of the season was successful for left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin, the second half has been disastrous.
Coming into his start with the Dodgers Tuesday night, Corbin had not won a game in Chase Field since July 23 when he beat the Cubs. In that stretch, Corbin was 2-5 and two no-decisions. He allowed at least one home run in his last six starts, and allowed 17 earned runs over his last four starts.
Facing the Dodgers, there was no improvement but a steep decline.
Corbin continued his mediocre second half and did not last the third inning. In the process, the Dodgers reached him for six runs and four extra base hits, including two home runs. The result was a disastrous 9-3 defeat to the Dodgers before 26,304 in Chase Field.
With the victory, the Dodgers snapped a four game losing streak and reduced their magic number to two. A combination of Dodger wins and Arizona losses totaling two gives Los Angeles the National League West Division title. L.A. can clinch the division crown with a win, either Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon, on the Diamondbacks home turf.
“I left a couple of pitches over the plate and guess I went pretty quick,” Corbin said. “They’re a good team over there and looked very comfortable swinging the bats.”
Perhaps the first inning was a microcosm of his recent maladies.
After retiring lead-off hitter Yasil Puig, Corbin surrendered a pair of singles, and then grooved a letter-high fast ball to Matt Kemp, who drilled a double into the left field corner to score two. Juan Uribe followed and hammered a change up into the Diamondbacks left field bullpen for this 12th home run of the season. Seemingly, the Dodgers shifted comfortably into cruise control.
Corbin’s demise occurred two innings later. After walking lead-off hitter Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez took Corbin over the right field fence for his 21st bomb of the year, and, at that point, manager Kirk Gibson saw enough.
“(Corbin) left my pitch over the plate,” Gonzalez said. “Our guys had great at-bats against him and looked like (Corbin) didn’t put pitches where he wanted. This season, he’s had some great games against us but no one is perfect all the time.”
The six runs allowed Tuesday night was Corbin’s second highest of the season. Only surrounding nine runs, eight earned, against the Phillies on Aug. 25 was greater in a single contest. The outing against Los Angeles was also Corbin's shortest of his major league career. He lasted two innings and three plus batters in the third inning.
Given his work load this season at 199 innings, there has been some discussion about shutting Corbin down. He discounts that argument, and says he’s ready to continue.
“I feel fine and just want to finish the season on a good note,” he said. “Any decision is up to them. I feel fine and I’ll prepare as always for my next start.”
If the Dodgers were busy hammering Corbin, the Diamondbacks could not touch L. A. starter Zach Greinke. Coming off the National League pitcher-of-the-month for August, Greinke was solid.
After allowing a pair of first inning singles, he settled into a comfortable groove and proceeded to retire the next nine in a row until and a pair of singles and ground out put the Diamondbacks on the scoreboard in the fourth. Later, he surrendered a lead-off home run to Aaron Hill in the sixth, and gave way to reliever J. P. Howell in the seventh.
For his 26 starts on the season, Greinke is now 15-3, one win short of a career high in wins, and now a 2.75 ERA.
“I was able to locate my pitches,” Greinke said of his win over the Diamondbacks. “I used all four of my pitches and with confidence, you can throw where you want. That was the biggest factor for me."
The Dodgers approach to Corbin was patience.
“He has good stuff and we’ll wait him out,” said L. A. manager Don Mattingly before the game. “We’ll wait for him and get his change-up. He has three good pitches and throws strikes, and we'll be ready.”
In reality, it didn’t take the Dodgers very long to figure out Corbin, and attack.
SIDELINED UNTIL THE NEXT YEAR AND PERHAPS BEYOND
A collateral segment of the Ian Kennedy-for-Joe Thatcher deal at the trading deadline was the unavailability of left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds.
Obtained from the Rockies last off-season for infielder Ryan Wheeler, Reynolds came out of the gate in impressive style. Through the opening weeks of the season, he sported a 0.00 ERA but suffered a strained left elbow two months into the season. Placed on the Disabled List June 10, Reynolds’ injury now seems debilitating.
At first, Reynolds thought he could avoid surgery but during a bullpen session last Thursday, he experienced total discomfort. The result was bad news on two fronts.
First, tests revealed a near complete tear in his posterior network of ligaments and a second showed his anterior network of ligaments was strained. In the end, the decision was made for him, and Reynolds will undergo a reconstruction of his left elbow.
The native of St. Charles, Ill. is now scheduled for Tommy John surgery next Tuesday on the elbow, and this procedure puts his major league career on hold.
Reynolds earned $505,000 this season and is signed through the current campaign. Recovery from Tommy John surgery is any where from a 12 to 18 months recovery, and that would out Reynolds out of action until the 2015 spring training.
In order to come back, a team would have to offer a contract, and at this point, this is not on anyone’s radar screen.
“It’s a bummer,” he said in the D-backs clubhouse prior to Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers. “I’m not sure of the timetable and it’s the first time I’ve experienced something like this.”
Right-hander Daniel Hudson has undergone two Tommy John surgeries and Reynolds said he had conversations.
“(Hudson) said just to keep positive,” Reynolds added. “He told me the first few weeks will be the most difficult and to hang in there.”
Surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday by the renown Dr. James Andrews. Reynolds was not sure of the location but said it be performed either in Birmingham, Ala. or Pensacola, Fla.
Reynolds expects to return to Phoenix immediately after the procedure but will begin his rehab session at home.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “There’s no guarantee he can come back and the rehab process is grueling and boring. Matt has a great attitude and we’ll see how the rehab progress goes.”
For the season, Reynolds appeared in 30 games, sported an 0-2 mark, turned in a credible 1.98 ERA, and recorded two saves.
In an effort to set-up his pitching rotation for the playoffs, Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly scratched Clayton Kershaw for Wednesday's night against the Diamondbacks.
Instead, Kershaw will go Saturday in San Diego and then have one more start in the regular season.
Meeting with reporters prior to Tuesday’s game with the Diamondbacks in Chase Field, Mattingly said he is not thinking about his post-season rotation but this was an effort to rest Kershaw, who leads in the National League in innings pitched.
“We’ve been talking about cutting his innings and felt this was the right time,” Mattingly said. “Look, I’m not thinking that far. The schedule ahead could be a benefit of this.”
If Kershaw and Zach Greinke are lined up as the Dodgers one-two starters in the post-season, Mattingly is not compromising on Greinke’s starts.
If Greinke is on schedule to pitch every fifth day, his remaining three starts includes the D-backs (which he won on Tuesday night), at San Francisco (Sunday) and Sat. Sept. 28 at home against Colorado.
By winning the National League West Division title, the Dodgers avoid the wild-card land mine and would have Kershaw and Greinke open the NL Division Series.