PHOENIX – Vince Velasquez delivered his longest start of the season and the Phillies opened a seven-game road trip with a 7-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.
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Velasquez pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs. He was supported by good defense, some of which he provided himself.
The Phils entered the day tied for the second wild card spot in the National League. They are 59-53.
The right-hander has had trouble throughout his career keeping his pitch count in check and getting through an opponent's batting order three times. Neither was a problem in this one. He got through the first six innings on 77 pitches and completed seven innings in 95 pitches. He scattered six hits, walked two and struck out just three.
Velasquez had only gotten through six innings one other time in 14 starts this season. That came on April 14 in Miami.
Coming into the game, Velasquez had held opposing hitters to a .192 batting average the first time through the order and a .194 batting average the second time through. However, the third time through the order, opponents were hitting .515. In this game, Arizona hitters were 0 for 8 with a walk against Velasquez the third time through the order.
Looking for some offense, manager Gabe Kapler used Rhys Hoskins in the No. 2 spot of the batting order and Jean Segura in the No. 5 spot. Kapler wanted Segura's aggressive approach and contact skills in an RBI hole. It worked. Segura had a pair of RBI singles, one in the third and one in the seventh.
Scott Kingery continued to hit in the No. 6 hole. He hit a first-pitch homer (No. 14) in the second inning and doubled in the sixth. Kingery hails from Phoenix and was playing in front of many family and friends.
Phillies hitters were just 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position over the weekend against the White Sox. The Phils lost two of three in that series. They were 5 for 19 with runners in scoring position in this one.
Vinny the athlete
Velasquez might be the best athlete on the Phillies roster. He showed it last year when he gunned down a runner while throwing left-handed. He showed it again Friday night when he was forced into duty in left field and threw out a runner at the plate. He did it again in the fifth inning of this game when he bounced off the mound for a bunt by opposing pitcher Merrill Kelly. Velasquez fielded the ball cleanly, wheeled and fired to third base to start a 1-5-3 double play.
An inning earlier, first baseman Rhys Hoskins made a nice play to start at 3-6-3 double play behind Velasquez.
Did we mention that the Phillies played some good defense in this one?
Left fielder Adam Haseley made a great read and ran a good, quick route to run down a hard line drive by Carson Kelly to the gap in left-center to end the bottom of the seventh inning with a man on base and preserve a 5-2 lead.
An inning later, Hoskins made another nice play on a hot smash by Ketel Marte to get an out.
Newcomer Corey Dickerson had a two-run homer and an RBI single on Sunday but was not in the lineup Monday night. What gives? Well, Dickerson is still not quite 100 percent after suffering a groin strain with Pittsburgh. Kapler said he wanted to ease Dickerson into action, but would soon turn him loose.
"He's very close to full strength," Kapler said.
Dickerson did appear as a pinch-hitter and struck out.
Jake Arrieta (8-8, 4.44) gets the ball Tuesday night. He will face Arizona's Mike Leake (9-8, 4.27).
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