Los Angeles Times

They tag Corbin for six runs in first inning to aid Heaney’s return

- By Steve Henson

The difference was night and day.

After scoring only four runs in two losses to the lowly Washington Nationals, the Dodgers took aim just after high noon Wednesday and immediatel­y unloaded on lefthander Patrick Corbin in a 7-1 victory.

They scored six first-inning runs, rata-tat-tat, stringing together six consecutiv­e hits with two out, effectivel­y putting the game out of reach before many in the sun-drenched crowd had taken their seats at Dodger Stadium.

The beneficiar­y was starter Andrew Heaney, who pitched four scoreless innings in his first start in five weeks. His ERA in four starts this season is an impeccable 0.47. Effectiven­ess seems a given with Heaney, who signed a one-year, $8million deal during the offseason.

More important will be how Heaney feels Thursday and beyond. Shoulder discomfort sidelined him for two months after his first two starts of the season, and after his previous start June 19, more shoulder discomfort sidelined him until Wednesday.

“I want to feel good tomorrow and actually pitch more than two games in a row, you know what I mean?” Heaney said with a wry grin. “I knew I’d be on a pitch limit to some extent, so I was a little annoyed with myself for having some long innings. It puts more strain on the bullpen guys.”

Heaney threw 71 pitches, 40 for strikes. He fell behind in the count often and walked three. He said that while he lacked command of his fastball, he was pleased with throwing his slider for strikes.

“I thought he was really good through three and there was a little fatigue that set in,” manager Dave Roberts said. “His delivery started fighting a little bit, he started getting behind in the count, his stuff wasn’t as crisp.”

Assuming he can remain healthy, Heaney will be a welcome addition to a rotation still missing injured Walker Buehler and Dustin May. Heaney has given up one earned run in 191⁄3 innings over his four starts.

Corbin is healthy, but for the last three seasons it’s hitters who get healthy off of his offerings. It’s a mystery the Nationals coaching and analytical staffs can’t solve, a two-time All-Star who has devolved into the worst starter in baseball.

The left-hander signed a six-year, $140-million backloaded contract ahead of the 2019 season, and he helped Washington win a World Series title. Since then he can’t seem to get anybody out, and he’s owed nearly $70 million through the end of 2024.

No wonder there was speculatio­n that any team trading for superstar slugger Juan Soto would have to take Corbin and his salary as well.

However, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on a radio show Wednesday he wanted the biggest haul possible for Soto, and that means he won’t attach Corbin to any deal.

“We want to get the most for each and every trade that we do,” Rizzo said, “so we certainly are not going to tack on anybody’s contract to anybody’s deal, including Juan Soto’s or Josh Bell’s or anybody else.”

Corbin’s ERA jumped from 6.02 to 6.49 after he lasted two-thirds of an inning against the Dodgers. Mookie Betts led off with a double that rattled the center-field wall and after Corbin retired Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman, the bludgeonin­g began.

Will Smith’s walk was followed by an RBI single from Justin Turner, an RBI single from Trayce Thompson, a two-run double from Hanser Alberto, an RBI single from Austin Barnes, an RBI double from Gavin Lux and a single by Betts, his second hit of the inning.

“With a hot start like that, you are playing downhill a little bit and there’s less pressure,” Lux said. “It takes the pressure off the pitching staff and defense.”

The Dodgers (65-32) failed to extend the lead until Lux’s single drove in a run in the eighth, but the Nationals (34-66) managed only five hits against Heaney and four relievers.

White’s demotion is ‘difficult’

Mitch White is clearly a big league pitcher. He has posted a 3.70 ERA over 10 starts and five relief appearance­s this season. He held the Nationals to two runs in five innings Tuesday.

His reward?

A demotion to triple-A Oklahoma City. And he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s frustratin­g,” he said. “I belong here. I understand the thinking and our people making decisions do a great job. But it’s frustratin­g.”

White certainly does not need minor league seasoning. He has thoroughly conquered triple-A competitio­n, going 2-0 and throwing 112⁄3 scoreless innings at Oklahoma City this season and going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA over 432⁄3 innings last year.

The reasoning is this: The Dodgers embark on an eight-game trip Thursday with four at Colorado and four at San Francisco in eight days. The bullpen is expected to be taxed as it was Tuesday when Roberts sent Garrett Cleavinger back to the mound in the ninth after he’d given up two runs in the eighth simply because he wanted everyone else fresh for Coors Field. Cleavinger was shelled for four more runs in an 8-3 loss.

He also was optioned to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

“I could have used a couple leverage guys [Tuesday],” Roberts said. “I could have used Alex Vesia and then he’s done for two days in Colorado.You have to kind of stick to the program in the long run. It’s easy to say in the moment, do this. I’ve learned not to do that.”

As for White’s demotion, Roberts had no problem with him being annoyed.

“I would expect that response,” he said. “There’s a profession­alism to Mitch saying he understand­s it, but there’s a competitor part that says, ‘I don’t agree with it.’

“That was a hard conversati­on. I didn’t expect him to agree with it or like it. And he’s shown with his performanc­e that his sentiments are right on.”

Expect White to be recalled sooner than later, either for a spot start or to add length to the bullpen.

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