SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was just a spring training game. Nonetheless, there was disappointment in Pete Mackanin's voice when it was over.
The Phillies came within two outs of a combined no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night. The no-hit bid ended when Chris Dickerson singled against reliever Michael Mariot with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Mariot was then unable to hold the Phillies' 2-0 lead. He allowed a two-run homer to the next hitter, Sean Coyle, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
The homer was a thrill for Coyle, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, played at Germantown Academy and was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2010.
It was not a thrill for Mackanin.
"It's a shame to lose the no-hitter," he said.
Even in spring training?
"A no-hitter is a no-hitter," he said. "It would have been nice to win that game."
Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson and Colton Murray preceded Mariot.
Ryan Hanigan (RBI single) and Andrew Knapp (solo homer) drove in the Phillies' runs. Knapp has been 1 for 22 on the spring before the homer.
Velasquez's learning experience
If you were looking for distilled essence of Velasquez, the hard-throwing right-hander offered it in 3 2/3 innings of work.
His stuff was good enough to strike out six batters over the span.
By his control was so poor, especially in the first inning, that he walked four.
He ended up throwing 76 pitches, 39 strikes and 37 balls -- a terrible ratio.
High pitch counts like this were a nemesis for Velasquez last season, often preventing him from getting through the middle innings and pitching deeper into games. Being more economical with his pitches is a big goal for Velasquez this spring and season.
So it didn't happen for him on Thursday night.
But that doesn't mean the outing was a total loss. Velasquez called it a great learning experience. Though he allowed four base runners -- all on walks -- he did not give up a run. In baseball parlance, he pitched when he had to.
"This was a good, solid outing to learn from," Velasquez said. "Knowing that I was throwing a lot of pitches, I had to throw pitches in certain situations, in key situations. The changeup was working pretty well, helping me out a lot and also setting up my fastball for some of the strikeouts. Everything was pretty much down in the dirt but I had to make adjustments.
"This was pretty much one of the games where I needed to make pitches to get outs, especially bases loaded with a tough team like this. You've got to make the pitches in the heat of the moment."
Velasquez did that in the first inning. He walked three and struck out two in the frame. After the third walk, which loaded the bases, he was at 25 pitches for the inning and 15 were balls. He received a mound visit from pitching coach Bob McClure and proceeded to end the inning with two pitches and a fly ball to left.
"He was just giving me a break, trying to gather me up again," Velasquez said.
"Just the mental thing of calm down, get your composure back and breathe. It's amazing how just one meeting can change the outcome."
Velasquez often tapped his pitching hand against his leg, especially in the first inning when he had control problems. He was asked if he had a problem feeling his hand on a chilly Florida night. That was not the case. He was reminding himself to stay back and over the rubber and not get too aggressive in his delivery.
"I was reminding myself to try to be a little more controlled, be balanced and just let it work," he said.
It was an adjustment that seemed to help Velasquez in the second inning, and his overall takeaway from the night was positive.
"I think I can really take this (outing) and keep this under my hat and apply it later on down the road whenever I hit that bump again because everyone has the ups and downs," Velasquez said. "I had it last year and I've got to do my best to prevent it. This was a good learning experience to keep under my hat for the next outing. I'm glad it happened."
The Phillies host the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday afternoon. Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies against Marco Estrada. The Phillies will wear their tradition green St. Patrick's Day garb.