From every angle, it is clear that the Washington Nationals have a problem with their rotation. Perhaps it will go away in the coming weeks, making it more of a hiccup than a structural failure. But Corbin, her 31-year-old left, was still flat in a 6-11 loss to the Diamondbacks at Nationals Park. He had already looked shaky on his season debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. In two appearances, he had no sense of the fastball-slider combination that justified a six-year contract for $ 140 million three winters ago and helped this club win a World Series in 2019.

Corbin is far from this form. And it seems to be going in the wrong direction.

“I really can’t point out one thing,” said Corbin. “I’ve been watching a video and I’m fine, so I’m not entirely sure.”

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Does he wish he had something specific to discuss?

“It would be nice to know if there is one thing or a few things,” he replied. “But I’m not entirely sure. I am fine. I thought my legs felt better on this start than the previous one below me. I dont know.”

The Nationals (3-7) came home with almost their desired 26-man roster. They were still without starter Jon Lester (who set up a simulated game in their alternate location on Thursday) and reliever Will Harris (who is recovering from a right hand infection and throwing a 20-pitch bullpen). But a coronavirus outbreak was behind them. So was a 2-4 trip through Los Angeles and St. Louis. They finished it off with a streak from the Cardinals and then got into the rhythm of a semi-normal season.

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That gave Corbin a chance to bury a bleak first foray. In 2020, he hit an MLB high of 85 hits over 11 starts of the shortened schedule and had an ERA of 4.66. This year started late for him because he may have been exposed to a teammate who tested positive for the coronavirus. So maybe it was fair that Asdrúbal Cabrera, the former Nationals infielder, finished fourth in a thin line-up in Arizona. Corbin faced his old team. The bones of rebound were there.

“He wasn’t astute,” said manager Dave Martinez, who, like his players, wore the number 42 on Thursday to honor Jackie Robinson on the occasion of his 74th anniversary breaking the MLB color barrier. “It’s not that he’s beating batters, and his location was bad. I can’t really say anything about him at the moment. His mechanics look like they’re fine so we just need to dig a little deeper. “

The first inning was a tutorial on how not to start a start. Somehow, Corbin’s second inning was a lot worse. Carson Kelly, the second batsman of the game, put a 1-1 sinker over the right field wall. Eduardo Escobar, the next batsman, stamped on the field seats in the center left. Then Corbin recorded the second out, went to Nick Ahmed, went to Pavin Smith, gave Wyatt Mathisen a single, and hit Andrew Young with a faulty fastball.

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The Nationals made their own first inning push against Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly, who allowed nine runs in 10 frames. Juan Soto singled, Josh Bell doubled him, Josh Harrison singled Bell and Starlin Castro put the Nationals 4-3 ahead with a homer from two runs. But Corbin erased that advance and some more.

“I’ve made a couple of good spots here and there,” said Corbin. “But if you go for a walk you can still make good spots and give up a few hits. It’s frustrating.”

The first three batters of the second reached with a colorful single, a walk and a single. Two batters later, Ahmed scorched a grounder in Harrison and failed to pitch it cleanly, turning a possible double play into a rally. Another run scored, and the bases remained loaded. Another run scored when Corbin Smith went, the four balls nowhere near the zone. Another hit when Corbin plucked Mathisen with a high sinker. Then Young, a 26-year-old outfielder, threw his first career grand slam in his 37th career record appearance.

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The crowd in Nationals Park booed. The pen made a movement and the helpers stretched and jogged to shake their limbs. Corbin retired the next two batters with two flyouts, and that was it. He walked to the dugout, his eyes on the grass, then the dirt, then the steps that led to the tunnel and the clubhouse.

He threw 63 pitches, 35 of them strikes, and got only four misses in 26 swings. He turned 12 sliders, his go-to-pitch, but the usual delusion wasn’t there. Relievers Kyle Finnegan, Luis Avilán and Wander Suero eliminated the Diamondbacks from the third through the seventh. However, the only positive thing about Corbin’s start was that it took place in mid-April. He had to rely on that.