Phillies see the two sides of Vince Velasquez in home-opening loss to Nationals

Phillies see the two sides of Vince Velasquez in home-opening loss to Nationals


The two sides of Vince Velasquez -- alternately fascinating and frustrating -- were on display in the Phillies' home opener Friday.

There was all that potential, the electric right arm and the crackling fastball, warming up a cold day with 10 strikeouts.

But there was also the maddening inconsistency and the inability to economize pitches and locate them precisely in big situations.

The Phillies provided some entertainment in their first game of the new season at Citizens Bank Park when they scored six unanswered runs in the late innings to nearly erase a big deficit against the Washington Nationals. In the end, however, their comeback came up short and they suffered a 7-6 loss to fall to 1-3 after four games (see Instant Replay).

There were plenty of ifs and buts in this one, but when it was over, Velasquez put the loss on himself.

"It was just a lack of performance on my end," he said. "It's frustrating to have a show like that at the end and not come out on top because of my performance."

The "show" that Velasquez spoke about was the six runs the Phillies scored in the final four innings, the outburst highlighted by Aaron Altherr's two-run homer in the seventh and Freddy Galvis' two-run homer in the ninth.

The "lack of performance" that he spoke about was his own work. Yeah, his rocket arm produced 10 strikeouts. But his lack of command caused his pitch count to swell to 94 and he didn't make it past the fourth inning. And in those four innings, he gave up a pair of two-run home runs.

Bryce Harper got him on a full-count changeup in the first inning. Daniel Murphy got him on a 2-2 fastball in the third inning.

On both occasions, there was a man on base via a walk.

And both times, Velasquez missed his spot with a pitch.

The changeup to Harper was thigh-high on the inner half of the plate.

The fastball to Murphy was right down the middle.

"If the changeup to Harper was on the outside of the plate, it might have been a different result," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Velasquez had been up on Murphy, 0-2, but could not put him away.

"Murphy is just a great hitter," Velasquez said. "It's hard to get that guy out. That fastball was right over the middle. I was all over the place. I couldn't command my fastball."

All of the Nationals' seven runs came on homers. Joely Rodriguez came in for Velasquez in the fifth and gave up a three-run homer to Jayson Werth (more on him here). It was Werth's 101st homer as a National and his 20th against his old team and it gave his club and 2016 NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer a 7-0 lead.

Going to the bullpen in the fifth inning is just too early, but in this case, it was a necessity.

"It's very frustrating giving up two home runs the first few innings and not giving your guys an opportunity to come out on top," Velasquez said. "I give our guys credit for battling the way they did, but I need to go deeper into the game."

Velasquez is 24 and still a developing pitcher on a developing team. It would be worth filing this performance -- the good and the bad -- to see if he grows from it down the road. It could end up being a learning experience.

"He knows what he has to do, but it doesn't come overnight," Mackanin said.

Scherzer -- 8-1 lifetime against the Phillies -- gave up just two runs over 6 2/3 innings. The Phillies scored four times against the Nats' bullpen and might have had more if Brock Stassi hadn't been nailed trying to move up to third on a ball to the backstop in the seventh. The ball shot hard off the backstop allowing Washington catcher Matt Wieters to catch it and fire to third to get Stassi. Mackanin absolved Stassi of any blame.

"Galvis, after the inning, was like, 'I've been playing here for however many years and that's the first time I've seen that happen,'" Stassi said. "I was like, 'Hmm. Figures it happens to me on my first game here.'"

In the eighth, the Phils got the first two men aboard then went down quietly against reliever Koda Glover.

Tommy Joseph popped out to end that threat. He has started off the season 0 for 13. Maikel Franco is 2 for 16 and Michael Saunders is 1 for 10.

Meanwhile, Odubel Herrera is 6 for 14 and Howie Kendrick is 5 for 13 (more on Herrera here).

So there is some good and some bad. Sort of like Velasquez's outing Friday.

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Marlins 0

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Marlins 0


A trio of rookies stepped up and led the Phillies to an 8-0 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

Mark Leiter Jr. spun a gem on the mound, Nick Williams reached base three times and scored three runs and Rhys Hoskins drove in five runs with a homer and a double.

One night earlier, the Marlins pounded out 27 hits and scored 19 runs in sweeping a doubleheader from the Phillies.

The shutout was the Phillies' fourth of the season. Their majors-worst record stands at 46-79.

Starting pitching report
In his fifth big-league start, Leiter pitched seven shutout innings. He held the Marlins hitless for the first five innings. The only hit he gave up was a leadoff double to Miguel Rojas in the sixth. Leiter then got three quick outs. The 26-year-old right-hander walked two and struck out five. All of the strikeouts came in the first two innings.

Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino was tagged for eight hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia and Hector Neris completed the shutout.

At the plate
The Phillies had 11 hits.

Williams singled with two outs in the first inning and scored on an RBI double by Tommy Joseph. The Phillies hit for the cycle in the third inning and scored five runs. Freddy Galvis and Jorge Alfaro had RBI hits. Hoskins had the big blow, a three-run homer into the second deck above left field. Three innings later, Hoskins smacked a two-run double with two outs. He has seven homers and 16 RBIs since joining the club. All of the homers have come in the last 10 games.

The Marlins had just two hits.

The Phillies added right-hander Drew Anderson from Triple A Lehigh Valley as bullpen insurance. He will likely return to Triple A on Thursday. Outfielder Cameron Perkins was sent to Triple A.

The Phillies signed veteran pitcher Henderson Alvarez to a minor-league contract. He is scheduled to pitch Friday for Lehigh Valley.

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday afternoon. Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.20) will be added to the roster and pitch for the Phillies against Marlins right-hander and former Phillie Vance Worley (2-3, 4.82).

The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs comes to town to start a three-game series on Friday night.

MLB Notes: Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal to have Tommy John surgery

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MLB Notes: Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal to have Tommy John surgery

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday that closer Trevor Rosenthal was being moved from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL and that the right elbow injury would require Tommy John surgery.

"I think just the timing of it, being right in the middle of this race and the way my personal season had been taking shape and the way the team has been playing recently. Tough timing," Rosenthal said.

"It felt like we were getting in a groove, I was in a groove, and to kind of have this happen and take a piece away from a really good team is a little bit of a bummer."

Rosenthal, who recorded 93 saves in 2014-15, lost the closer's job a year ago to Seung Hwan Oh but reclaimed it this season after Oh struggled. Rosenthal recorded 11 saves, giving him 118 over the past four seasons.

Cardinals general manager Mike Girsch said Rosenthal will have surgery next week.

"We hoped for better news," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ". Somebody is going to have to step in. He was really throwing the ball well."

Red Sox: Team acquires OF Davis from A’s
CLEVELAND -- The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox have boosted their outfield depth by acquiring speedy Rajai Davis from the Oakland Athletics for a minor league outfielder.

The Red Sox sent 18-year-old Rafael Rincones to the last-place A's on Wednesday. Hours earlier, Boston put center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. on the 10-day disabled list because of a sprained left thumb.

Davis is expected to join the Red Sox in Cleveland on Thursday for a game between division leaders. He hit .233 with 26 stolen bases, five home runs and 18 RBIs in 100 games with Oakland this season.

The 36-year-old Davis is in his 12th big league season. He led the American League with 43 steals last year for Cleveland, and also hit a big home run in Game 7 of the World Series off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.

Davis also has played for Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and Detroit. He didn't play Wednesday in Oakland's 8-7 loss in 12 innings at Baltimore.

The Red Sox designated outfielder outfielder Steve Selsky for assignment.

Cubs: Rizzo’s eagerness to play 3B quickly wanes
CINCINNATI -- Anthony Rizzo didn't hesitate when Cubs manager Joe Maddon asked if he'd finish the game at third base, a position he'd never played at any point in his career.

Can't be that hard, right? Even if he is left-handed and would have to turn his body to throw to his normal spot at first base?

"I said `Yeah, I can play,'" Rizzo said on Wednesday . "I can field ground balls and throw. It's really as simple as you can make it."

Simple in theory. In practice, Rizzo discovered that it's a whole different world on the other side of the infield.

Just for fun, Maddon moved Rizzo to third base on Tuesday night after Kris Bryant got hit in the hand by a pitch and went for X-rays that were negative. Rizzo played his unaccustomed spot in the ninth inning and didn't get a ball hit his way as the Cubs finished off a 13-9 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Rizzo became only the third left-handed third baseman in Cubs history. The other two were in the 1800s. Although eager for the new experience, he started having second thoughts when he actually saw Joey Votto -- the Reds' first batter of the ninth inning -- dig in at the plate.

"I was not prepared at all," Rizzo said. "I've maybe taken ground balls there once this year, just to mess around."