This was hardly a surprise, Corbin’s victory coming with a clear majority of the votes. By Game Score it was the best outing from a Diamondbacks’ pitcher in almost fourteen years, since Randy Johnson’s perfect game in Atlanta, and the best at home since a Big Unit one-hitter against the Rockies in September 2003. It was also the best game thrown by any Arizona starter not named Johnson or Curt Schilling - and it needed to be, being also the best start by a D-back in a 1-0 win. Corbin pitched his first career complete-game shutout on exactly a hundred pitches, allowing only one walk and a feeble checked-swing infield hit, off the bat of Brandon Belt with two outs in the eighth inning.
Both Corbin and San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto were on their game. Alex Avila had a single off Cueto in the second inning; Joe Panik worked a five-pitch walk off Corbin and Paul Goldschmidt got plunked in the fourth; and Jarrod Dyson had a single in the fifth. None of those got off first-base, and through seven innings, were the only base-runners for either team. Corbin was majestic, with a startling range of pitches, all working on the night. There was almost a thirty miles per hour range in his pitch velocity. His hardest fastball came in at 94.6 mph, while at the other end of the spectrum... Well, Corbin had clearly been taking lesson from Zack Greinke going by this 65 mph curve to St. Buster of the Flowers.
While Cueto’s no-hitter had gone early, on Avila’s single, Corbin was still rolling. There had been some good defense behind him. According to ish95’s recap, in the third, “Brandon Belt was at the plate and hit a ground ball right into the teeth of the shift. It still made for a tough play for Descalso, who had to make a diving play to stop the ball, get up and throw Belt out, preserving the no hitter.” But there was a better play to come in the seventh (above), when “Posey was hitting with two outs and smashed a line drive to center. AJ Pollock got a bad read on it to start, but figured it out and chased it down in the corner, making an incredible diving play to snag it.”
The eighth proved the game’s decisive inning, in both good and bad directions. After getting Pablo Sandoval to fly out, and Hunter Pence went down swinging, Corbin got ahead of Belt. On an 0-1 pitch, the batter tried to check his swing, only for the ball to ping off his bat. If the D-backs had been playing normal defense, it could well have been an out, but the overshift was on, and the ball went between Nick Ahmed, the only man on the left side of the infield, and the third-base line. Nick made a strenuous effort to get over and throw to first, but Belt legged it out, and the no-hitter ended, with the possibly the saddest of sad trombone sounds in Diamondbacks’ history.
However, Corbin rebounded to get out of the inning without damage, and played a key part in the bottom of the frame, where Arizona score the decisive run against the Giants’ bullpen. With one out, Dyson drew a walk off Tony Watson, and Corbin was able to get the bunt down: Dyson became the first man for either side on the night to get past first base. David Peralta followed with a single back up the middle, and Jarrod motored around for the game’s only run. Having been staked to a lead, Patrick retired San Francisco in order, ending the game by getting Nick Hundley to line to Peralta in left, and closing out the 1-0 win for Arizona.
What they said
- Patrick Corbin: “It was awesome. Always fun to finish the game. I felt after A.J’s catch that something special could happen... But I felt in a rhythm all day: Alex did a great job, and we just kept them off-balance. When you can mix your pitches and get quick outs - it seemed like we were going back and forth, putting up zeroes... It was awesome to get a run in the eighth and then being able to go out there and shut it down.”
- Corbin on the hit: “To give up a couple hard-hit balls on bad pitches and they were caught and make a good pitch and they get a hit, that’s baseball.”
- Corbin on the curve to Posey: “I think I made up a pitch today -- just threw something at 65 mph. Never done that, so not sure where that came from.”
- Torey Lovullo: “Just a fantastic effort by Patrick. It was really good stuff that stayed with him all game long. Seemed he had two or three different pitches: he was even mixing in a slow breaking ball. It looked to me like he could do anything at any time, on any edge of the plate. Just a really fun night to watch, just a really fun night to be a baseball fan. Patrick was off the charts.”
- Alex Avila: “He had everything working. Good slider, good curveball, good fastball to both sides. He was locating really well.”