Corbin's unbeaten run just one of many for NL Wild Card leaders
By Owen Perkins
Special to MLB.com |
DENVER -- First things first. If it isn't the D-backs' mantra, it ought to be. Arizona has scored at least one run in the first inning in five straight games. On Saturday, they scored three, which was enough to win their ninth straight game, 6-2, and ensure a victory in a key series from Colorado, their closest National League Wild Card challenger.
"That's a sign that something's going right for us," said manager Torey Lovullo about his club, which has outscored the Dodgers and Rockies, 14-0, in the first inning in the past five games. "We talked about playing downhill baseball from Day 1 here, and our guys are ready to play in the first inning, and that's what it tells me. We're executing, we are doing the things we are supposed to do to score runs, and then the pitchers deserve as much credit as anybody, because they're going ahead and executing shutdown innings and standing on their stuff like they're supposed to do."
Saturday's starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin, has been an essential part of that nine-game streak, notching two wins in the span and extending his own streak to five straight wins in his last five starts. Corbin is 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA, eight walks, and 33 strikeouts over his last five starts. It's a tribute to Corbin that his 5 1/3 innings of two-hit ball with just one earned run allowed in Coors Field is sub-par for the span.
"It wasn't the length that he's been giving us," Lovullo said. "Patrick pitched into the sixth inning and turned it over to the bullpen. He kept a very offensive lineup in check, a very right-handed-hitting offensive lineup in check that does very well against left-handed pitching. I thought it was a great outing for him."
The first-inning momentum was all Corbin needed -- and all the D-backs needed to inch their way into the record book with a string of leading at the end of 52 consecutive innings, dating back to the third inning of the Aug. 25 game against the Giants. It's the third-best streak since the live-ball era opened in 1920, and they trail only the '83 Orioles (55 consecutive innings) and the '63 Cardinals (53 innings). The D-backs can't even remember the last time they trailed a team.
"Oh, man, I don't know," said catcher Chris Herrmann. "I haven't even thought of that, to be honest. All I know is that it's fun when we come out and score a couple runs in the first inning, so any time we do that it's going to be a good chance that we're going to win a baseball game. Hopefully we can keep that going. Ten wins in a row would be awesome. I would love to see that happen tomorrow."
The confluence of streaks -- Corbin wins, first-frame runs, consecutive innings in the lead, and ultimately team wins -- couldn't come at a better time as the D-backs finished August by sweeping the division-leading Dodgers and started September taking two straight from the Wild Card-rival Rockies, extending their cushion in the first Wild Card spot to 5 1/2 games.
"It's a good time to heat up again," Corbin said. "For a lot of guys, this is the first time this deep in the season playing meaningful games, so it's exciting. This is what we prepare for all offseason and Spring Training. We've just got to continue. We've got a month left. We're playing good baseball at the right time."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the D-backs on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.