After the Diamondbacks traded Ian Kennedy, considered the titular head of the pitching staff, the search began for a number one starter, and leader of the staff.
The first inclination would to anoint Patrick Corbin, who ripped off nine wins in his first 11 starts and named to the National League all-star team.
Now, Corbin has fallen on hard times and with his 8-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants before 33,427 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field, the lefty allowed 17 hits and 13 earned runs in his last two starts. He now stands at 13-5 and once stellar ERA is creeping toward three a game (currently, a 2.96).
With the loss, the Diamondbacks drop the weekend set to the Giants and in the nine games between the teams in Chase Field this season, the Giants came away with seven wins.
For his five innings of work, Corbin was touched for nine hits, five runs and threw 86 pitches. Since June 7, Corbin has a 4-5 mark with seven no decisions. The five innings against the Giants represented Corbin’s shortest outing of the season. The loss was the first time this season Corbin has lost two in a row.
Reasons began to circulate regarding Corbin’s decline. Here, the issue of fatigue crept into post-game discussion Sunday.
With his start Sunday, Corbin has pitched 182.2 innings, and that among the league leaders.
“I feel fine and not tired,” Corbin said. “It’s just I’ve not been as sharp in the last two games as I was earlier.”
As the season heads in September and the final weeks, the stress and strain can be telling.
“Patrick is approaching 185 innings and who’s not tired?,” asked manager Kirk Gibson. “(On Sunday, Corbin) made a mistake and they jumped on it for three runs. But, you can’t pin the defeat on Corbin alone. They capitalized on their chances and we did not.”
As the Diamondbacks move into the off-season and begin thinking about the 2014 season, Corbin’s stature will likely change. From an original thought of building a starting rotation around the native of Clay, N. Y., now the Diamondbacks' organization will determine how to best to simply create a creditable rotation. Corbin will clearly enter the discussion, but his ascendancy as a leader of the rotation will likely be compromised.
Whether fatigue is an issue, Corbin lasted only three creditable innings Sunday. With the score tied 1-1, Corbin hit the wall in the fourth inning.
With runners on second and third and no out, Corbin managed to get a fly ball, a grounder and no runner scored. When it appeared Corbin would get out of the inning without damage, catcher Hector Sanchez lined a double to score two and former Diamondback pitcher Yusmeiro Petit singled in another for his second career RBI.
Corbin could have exited the inning without damage, but one mistake is all it takes to humble a major league pitcher.
With the count 1-2 to Sanchez, Corbin left a curve ball over the plate and the Giants’ back-stop laced a two-bagger, two RBIs and the key hit of the game.
“Yeah, I was ahead in the count but left a curve up there and (Sanchez) got it,” Corbin said. “With guys in scoring position, I just didn’t make my pitches.”
In three of the last four games, the Diamondbacks have totaled three runs. Save the 4-3 win Saturday, that means they scored seven runs in the past four games.
On Sunday, the two RBIs came from a double off the bat of Martin Prado in the first inning, and a two out, run-producing single from Adam Eaton in the seventh.
BACK FOR MORE
With rosters expanding to a potential 40 players, the Diamondbacks recalled pitchers David Hernandez and Tony Sipp, both from Triple A Reno prior to Sunday‘s game.
Hernandez was optioned to the Aces on August 11, and appeared in nine games at Reno. He recorded two saves and posted a 0.93 ERA. Sipp was sent to Reno on August 4 and in nine games, registered one win, one save and allowed one unearned run in 10 innings of work.
“With (Hernandez), we sent him to down to take some pressure off,” said manager Kirk Gibson prior to Sunday’s game with the Giants. “We wanted him to be in a more relaxed environment.”
The addition of Hernandez and Sipp puts two more bodies in an over-worked bullpen. Plus, the two relievers give Gibson a number of options not available under the 25 player roster mandate.
“With (Hernandez and Sipp), this gives us a little more flexibility,” Gibson added. “No doubt, our bullpen is taxed and overworked.”
INTER-LEAGUE PLAY RETURNS
The Diamondbacks conclude inter-league with the Toronto Blue Jays for the next three days.
Facing American League opponents in 2013, the D-backs traveled to Yankee Stadium, Tampa and Boston and entertained the Orioles, Rays and now the Jays.
For Labor Day at 1:10 p.m., the D-backs sent Brandon McCarthy (3-8, 5.03) to the hill against Jays’ right-hander Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.05 ERA). On Tuesday night at 6:40 p.m., Wade Miley (9-9, 3.55) opposes righty Todd Redmond (2-2, 4.30 ERA) and for the finale on Wednesday afternoon (12:40 p.m.), it’s Randall Delgado (4-5, 3.67 ERA) against lefty Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.92 ERA).
When the Diamondbacks dealt outfielder Jason Kubel to Cleveland last week, they received the ubiquitous player-to-be-named later.
The trade was completed Sunday when the D-backs acquired right-hander reliever Matt Langwell from the Indians Triple A Columbus. In 2013, Langwell went 2-3 with 2.24 ERA with 52 strike outs in 42 appearances at the minor league level.
Langwell, at 27 years-old, appeared in five games with Cleveland this season and registered a 1-0 mark.