Your worst fears about Vince Velasquez and the Phillies' bullpen came true Sunday.
Both were bad in an ugly 11-6 loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
And so the Phillies, who cannot afford a slow start in this 60-game sprint, have lost their season-opening series and are 1-2 heading into a four-game home-and-home series with the New York Yankees, a team with World Series or bust aspirations.
Jake Arrieta will make his first start of the season Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Yankees lefty J.A. Happ.
Zach Eflin gets the ball Tuesday night against Gerrit Cole.
Complete coverage of the Fightin' Phils and their MLB rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
All of those good vibes that Velasquez generated in summer camp disappeared when he blew a 4-0 lead in the second inning. He hit a batter, walked a batter, gave up a single, a solo homer and a three-run homer in the inning.
Velasquez lasted just three innings. He threw 60 pitches, only 36 of which were strikes. His four-seam fastball averaged 92.7 mph, down from 94.5 last season.
Velasquez won a spot in the rotation with a strong showing in recent weeks, but he needed to continue to pitch well — in games that count — to hold on to his job, especially in a season where every game is magnified.
Now you have to wonder if he'll make his next start, which is scheduled for Friday against the Blue Jays in wherever the Blue Jays are going to play their games.
Top prospect Spencer Howard pitched in an intrasquad game at Lehigh Valley on Sunday so he's lined up to take Velasquez' spot if management decides to go that way.
Velasquez did his team no favors by squandering an early lead and losing the momentum. His poor outing also put the ball into the hands of the bullpen early in the game and everyone knows the 'pen is this team's weakness.
Cole Irvin, Reggie McClain and Nick Pivetta picked up 5⅓ innings. They were tagged for nine hits — including two homers, two triples and a double — and seven runs.
It produced 12 hits and six runs. That's enough to win on a lot of nights. But not this one.
The Phils hit for the cycle in the first inning. Adam Haseley singled, Rhys Hoskins doubled and Bryce Harper smacked a three-run homer. Before the inning was over, Jay Bruce tripled in a run.
The Phils scored just two runs the rest of the game. They had bases loaded and one out in the fifth and sixth innings and both times got nothing. They also left the bases loaded in the eighth and two on in the ninth.
In all, the Phils were 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 11 men.
The Marlins continue to give the Phillies fits.
Last year, the Marlins lost 105 games, most in the NL, but they still managed to win 10 of 19 against the Phillies. That cost the Phillies a winning season and maybe a shot at the postseason because the rest of the NL East cleaned up on the Marlins.
Now, the Phils are 1-2 against the Marlins in the new season.
Making the series loss even more difficult to swallow is the fact that the Marlins have been hit hard by COVID losses. They are missing six key players overall, and four regulars, including scheduled starting pitcher Jose Ureña, were out Sunday. Ureña was scratched a few hours before the game. Robert Dugger made the start for Miami. It was his eighth as a major leaguer.
Dugger allowed five runs in 3⅓ innings. The Marlins' bullpen gave up just one run the rest of the way and their hitters beat up the Phillies' bullpen.
Seven of the Marlins' 12 hits on the day were for extra bases.
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