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.