If there are concerns about the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation in general, there can be no worries about Patrick Corbin.
As the D-backs drive for the National League West Division title, the 24 year-old continues to pile up quality starts and will likely be the core and foundation in the stretch drive ahead.
Corbin turned in another worthy start Sunday and limited the visiting San Diego Padres to just six hits and one run in eight solid innings.
While his effort was certainly commendable, Corbin and his teammates ran into a buzz saw named San Diego right-hander Tyson Ross, Corbin’s opponent on the mound Sunday.
If Corbin was strong, Ross was stronger. The 25 year-old native of Berkeley, Calif. allowed no runs, three scattered hits, walked one and fanned seven in eight stellar innings.
The result was 1-0 defeat to the Padres before 24,864 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field. The loss was the Diamondbacks first 1-0 defeat at home since Aug. 22, 2010 against the Rockies and Corbin’s first defeat to home this season.
Still, Corbin had as much command in this one as he had in any game this season.
“Coming out of the bullpen, I didn’t have my best stuff,” Corbin acknowledged. “The first two innings were somewhat of a struggle but I settled down. Yeah , I felt fine but they scored when the had the opportunity and we didn’t.”
The Padres were able to get to Corbin, now 12-2, in the first inning, and that was enough.
With two out, Chase Headley smoked a triple off the center field fence and scored on a single to left off the bat of ex-Diamondback Carlos Quentin.
From there, Corbin held court and gave the Padres only four hits the rest of the way. San Diego managed two base runners on base in only one inning thereafter, the second, and Corbin retired 19 of the last 21 hitters he faced.
If the Padres scored from third to forge a slight lead, the Diamondbacks has a similar opportunity.
Shortstop Cliff Pennington led off the third with a triple into the right field corner. Corbin followed with a fly to short left field and third base coach Matt Williams wisely held Pennington at third. Then, Adam Eaton grounded to second and Aaron Hill struck out.
From that point, Ross slammed the door and the Diamondbacks had only two base runners over the final six innings. That included lead-off walk to A. J. Pollock in the fifth, and one out single by Pennington in the eighth inning.
“(Ross’) slider was his out-pitch and that was effective,” Pollock said afterward. “He’s a spot-up pitcher and was on top of his game.”
With the loss, the Diamondbacks failed to win a series in the recently-concluded home stand. Facing the Cubs and Padres with a combined 96-113 mark, the Diamondbacks did not beat the teams they must.
In seven games against the Cubs and Padres, they went 3-4.
In the process, Arizona split with Chicago and dropped two-of-three to San Diego. For a team which considers itself in the pennant race for the National League West Division title, a below .500 home stand is not a good result and not conducive to establishing winning ways.
A PITCHING STAFF IN FLUX
Seemingly, questions fired at Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson these days concern the pitching staff.
With the rotation changing nearly on a weekly basis, implosion of traditional closers and the inconsistency of David Hernandez, Gibson’s decisions seem based on addressing the moment rather than planning for the future.
With the latest consequence, the Diamondbacks recalled right-hander Chaz Roe from Triple A Reno, and Roe, who beat the Mets on July 4 for his only major league win to date, replaces Tyler Skaggs on the roster.
Yet, Roe’s wardrobe in Sedona Red will be short-lived. By the end of this week, he will be sent back to Reno this Friday. That’s when right-hander Brandon McCarthy comes off the DL and will start against the Red Sox in Fenway Park.
Then, there’s the timetable surrendering right-hander Trevor Cahill.
On the DL since July 1 with a right hip contusion, Cahill is scheduled to start for Reno Tuesday in a Triple A game against Oklahoma City. The forecast calls for Cahill to reach 80 pitches and Gibson told reporters before Sunday’s game with San Diego that Cahill could be a few starts away from activation to the major league roster.
“McCarthy threw 90 pitches (this past Friday night at Reno) and he should be ready to approach 100 in a major league game,” Gibson said. “As far as Cahill’s future is concerned, that’s up to Cahill. We’ll see how he fells.”
As the Diamondbacks head out for a six game road trip, the rotation has Ian Kennedy opening Tuesday night in Tampa, Wade Miley will follow against the Rays Wednesday, Randall Delgado goes Thursday in a make-up game against the Rangers and McCarthy on Friday night in Boston. Patrick Corbin comes back against the Red Sox Saturday and Kennedy closes the series at Fenway Park.
RETURNING TO FENWAY PARK
Diamondbacks’ outfielder Cody Ross says he looks forward to a return to Fenway.
Next weekend, the D-backs roll into The Hub for three with the Red Sox. After spending last season with the Bosox, Ross makes a return visit.
“Excited to get back and see some old friends,” Ross said in the clubhouse before Sunday’s game. “It’s just something very special to play in Fenway and Boston is such a great city.”
When asked about a special memory from last season, Ross hesitated.
“Just playing in Fenway was special enough,” he said. “There were times where I just stood in the outfield and envisioned players who played here before. I thought, Ted Williams was over there, Carl Yastrzemski was over there, Babe Ruth started his career here. Just a real neat feeling.”
For the Red Sox last season, Ross hit .267 in 130 games, slammed 22 home runs and drove in 81 runs.
In the last off-season, Ross signed a three year, $26 million deal to join the D-backs, and is hitting .262 in 84 games thus far in 2013.