Pete Mackanin said before Tuesday night’s game that he thought Vince Velasquez had looked “confident” recently.
The manager echoed that following the Phillies’ 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Marlins (see game story) and was pleased with the right-hander’s command against Miami's tough lineup, despite four free passes.
“He pounded the strike zone,” Mackanin said. “I know he had four walks, but he wasn’t all over the place, and he had a great changeup today and he had velocity on his fastball with movement."
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Velasquez took a hard-luck no-decision but was excellent on extended rest in his first start since the All-Star break. He worked seven strong innings, striking out five and allowing one earned run on three hits, lowering his season ERA to 3.15. It’s the first time he has made it through the seventh inning since his 16-strikeout, complete game shutout back on April 14.
“I was pretty much refreshed,” Velasquez said. “No need to hold anything back. I mean, first start [since the All-Star break], why not go out and give it all you got? If nothing’s hurting, then I don’t see why not.”
After laboring through a 20-pitch first inning, Velasquez needed just 85 to get through his final six frames, finishing the night at 105 pitches.
“I threw a little bit more pitches in the first inning, which is kind of normal, but I pitched around that and executed my pitches a little more,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez fought to work around a leadoff single by J.T. Realmuto to start the game and found his command shortly after, racking up four strikeouts his first time through the Marlins’ order.
Velasquez struck out only one more batter the rest of his outing but kept the ball down in the zone, producing 10 outs on the ground, including rolling two double-play balls.
Pitching to contact, Velasquez trusted his defense to make the plays behind him, and it did by not committing an error. Velasquez didn’t make the defense work too hard, either, regularly inducing weak contact.
“The defense has always been 100 for me,” Velasquez said. “We’re playing great defense.”
Despite walking four, his command was solid. He had good life on his fastball and made only one mistake all night, an 0-2 breaking ball left out over the plate that Christian Yelich launched into the Marlins' bullpen for a solo home run in the top of the fourth.
Other than that, Velasquez kept the Fish at bay, allowing just one hit and three total base runners after the Yelich homer.
“[Velasquez] did a good job of keeping us in the game,” Mackanin said.
Velasquez has now recorded three straight quality starts and has allowed just five runs in 24 innings (four starts) since returning from the disabled list on June 27. He’s recorded 25 strikeouts and just eight walks in that span.
Looking and feeling refreshed and confident, Velasquez will try to continue his run of success on Sunday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.