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D-backs’ Patrick Corbin pitches well in first career Opening Day start

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (46) throws against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Four years removed from having season-ending Tommy John surgery, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin finally made his first career Opening Day start on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies.

Despite a few mistakes that resulted in two solo home runs, Corbin dazzled in his Opening Day debut.

The lefty lasted 5.2 innings for the win, allowing seven hits, two earned runs and one walk while striking out eight in the D-backs’ 8-2 victory.

“It was fun,” Corbin said after the start. “It’s great I think just to start off with a win and get things rolling in the right direction.”

The last time Corbin was scheduled to be the D-backs’ Opening Day starter was in 2014 when left elbow discomfort in a spring game led to Corbin having Tommy John surgery and missing the entirety of the season.

Like any pitcher who goes through the procedure, his future was uncertain. But after going 6-5 in 16 encouraging starts the following season with a 3.60 ERA, it appeared Corbin was back on track.

Questions arose, however, about his future again following the D-backs’ 2016 campaign. Corbin went 5-13 in 26 starts, and his ERA ballooned up to 5.15 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.98, a career low. He gave up career highs in earned runs and walks.

Corbin was eventually moved to the bullpen that season, losing his starting rotation spot to Zack Godley.

But under Torey Lovullo, Corbin managed to bounce back in 2017 with a 14-13 record in 32 starts, a 4.03 ERA and 178 strikeouts. He matched his career highs in wins in a season, starts and strikeouts.

Corbin also posted a career-high 20.1-inning scoreless streak in 2017

All of his career highs that he matched last season were set in 2013, the same season Corbin was an All-Star. It was also the last season he pitched before having one of the most significant surgeries a Major League pitcher can have done.

Lovullo credited Corbin after the game for his ability to be ready for this stage.

“He’s been around the block a few times,” he said. “He knows how to control that emotion.

“I do know this. Opening Day is a special day for everybody,” added Lovullo. “I’m tired right now. My mind’s been racing all day long. It’s been racing for the past four or five days, and I’m sure everyone fell into that mode as well. And for Patrick to go out there and give us what he did was pretty special.”

Despite the fact that it was a series of circumstances with Zack Greinke experiencing some minor groin issues during spring training that lead to Corbin starting on Opening Day, he proved with his performance that he was ready for the challenge. Even if it took him four years to get another shot at the opportunity.

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