Vince Velasquez: 'I'm not even doing my part, this is horrible'

Vince Velasquez: 'I'm not even doing my part, this is horrible'

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Vince Velasquez is fully aware of the perception of him: hard thrower, electric stuff, but not enough pitchability to get quick outs that enable him to go deep into games.

He was extremely hard on himself in the Phillies' clubhouse after Wednesday's 5-4 loss in which he lasted just five innings and threw 100 pitches.

Two starts into his second season with the Phils, Velasquez has thrown 194 pitches in eight innings. He's been racking up the strikeouts, 17 in all, but he's falling behind in too many counts, walking too many batters and just generally not putting the Phillies in a favorable situation.

"Terrible," he said of his performance Wednesday. "The first two starts, this is not the way to go. I'm not even giving my team a chance to win. I'm not even doing my part. This is horrible."

Velasquez gave up a first-inning run but settled in during the second. He was painting on the outside corner with his fastball and he also had his curveball working. 

The game was close heading into the top of the fifth when the Mets had the bottom of the order due up. Velasquez hit eighth batter Travis d'Arnaud, walked pitcher Zack Wheeler, walked Michael Conforto and all three of them came around to score. The Mets built a five-run lead that they were able to cling to even after Maikel Franco's sixth-inning grand slam.

"Mentally, coming into the game I was locked in," Velasquez said. "I had the mindset of going seven innings today. But the high pitch count shows otherwise. … I just put myself in situations that I shouldn't. That's one of the things I need to work on -- not be too fine with my stuff."

One at-bat in particular that stuck out to Velasquez was Conforto's fifth-inning walk that loaded the bases. Velasquez appeared to have him struck out on a fastball right down the middle, but home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt obviously saw something different.

Regardless of the result of that plate appearance, Velasquez would have attacked him differently if he could have the opportunity again.

"That's not my part of my repertoire. I'm trying to throw a front-door two-seam fastball, backdoor two-seam, trying to freeze him and I'm not known for that," Velasquez said. "That's not my repertoire, so I don't know why (I did it). I'm glad I recognize stuff like that. Sometimes the heat of the moment just gets the best of me. I've got to be sharper with my stuff."

Velasquez doesn't want to take much credit for all of his strikeouts because they mean less than the walks, the 9.00 ERA and the two losses. But getting all of these swings-and-misses does help him remain confident that he has the ability to make a difference on a pitching staff.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is content to wait it out with Velasquez because the 24-year-old is just too talented. Plus, what is the other option? This is a non-contending team building for the future and Velasquez should have a place in that future somewhere.

"There's no other alternative," Mackanin said. "Hopefully during the course of this season, he's going to show improvement. I have a lot of confidence in him making progress during the course of the year. He knows what he has to do. Sometimes he maybe just tries to do too much instead (of trusting) that powerful fastball. Just go right after them. I think he'll progress during the course of the season."

The Phillies are exhibiting patience with Velasquez but the pitcher himself knows he doesn't have forever to show he can actually go deep into games regularly.

Velasquez has now made 26 starts as a Phillie and lasted past the sixth inning just three times.

"There's a turning point somewhere and it'll come around," he said. "I'm not giving up too quick but I know the consequences if I don't do my part. I'm fully aware of that."

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge hits mammoth homer in Yankees' win over Mets

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge hits mammoth homer in Yankees' win over Mets

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge launched a titanic homer, Didi Gregorius snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run double and the New York Yankees beat the Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory in the Subway Series.

After taking the first two matchups in the Bronx this week, the Yankees kept up their winning ways when the crosstown rivalry shifted to Queens. Judge enjoyed his first game at Citi Field, hitting a solo drive into the rarely reached third deck in left.

Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes never even budged as Judge's AL-leading 37th home run, projected at 457 feet, soared way over his head.

The rookie slugger also singled and scored on Chase Headley's sacrifice fly. But he struck out in the ninth inning to extend a dubious streak: Judge has fanned in 33 consecutive games, three shy of the record for a position player set by Adam Dunn from 2011-2012 (see full recap).

Alonso, Rzepczynski help seal Mariners’ victory
SEATTLE -- Recently acquired Yonder Alonso hit his first homer for Seattle and drove in three runs, and Marc Rzepczynski struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded to end the Mariners' 7-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

Alonso, acquired in a trade with Oakland on Aug. 6, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 23rd of the season. He added an RBI single during a three-run fifth and also singled in the seventh.

Leonys Martin opened the sixth with his third home run to put Seattle up 7-4.

Seattle closer Edwin Diaz came on in the ninth and walked the first three hitters. Manny Machado followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5, but Martin prevented an extra-base hit with a sensational diving catch in right field.

Diaz struck out Jonathan Schoop, but then hit both Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo to force in another run. Rzepczynski relieved and fanned Davis on three pitches for his first save.

Tony Zych (6-3) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8) allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings (see full recap).

Gordon’s single in 9th lifts Royals over A’s
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Alex Gordon hit a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the eighth, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Athletics 7-6 on Wednesday.

Alcides Escobar doubled to start the ninth against Blake Treinen (1-1), matching his season high with three hits. Then Gordon delivered his second run-scoring single of the series finale.

Oakland's Matt Chapman hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth against Brandon Maurer (1-1), who wound up the winner.

Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Danny Duffy struck out eight over five innings but the Royals couldn't hold a late lead again before holding on -- a day after squandering a four-run advantage in a 10-8 defeat.

Cain added a key RBI single in the eighth for the Royals, who began the day tied with Minnesota six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland (see full recap).

Nick Pivetta takes his 'demotion' in stride after putting up big strikeout totals

Nick Pivetta takes his 'demotion' in stride after putting up big strikeout totals

SAN DIEGO — Odubel Herrera has missed the Phillies' last two games with a sore left hamstring and the team could sure use his bat.

Will he be available Thursday in San Francisco?

Herrera was asked about his condition as he hurried out of the clubhouse and off to the team bus after Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres (see Instant Replay).

"Better," he said, indicating some improvement.

Could he play in the next day or so?

"Maybe," he said.

As a contingency, the Phillies will add a position player — Brock Stassi makes sense — to their roster for Thursday's game while they continue to evaluate Herrera. If Herrera can't go in a couple of days, he could end up on the disabled list. He injured the hamstring late in Monday night's game. He improved his hitting streak to 17 games earlier that night.

In order to add a player to the roster without placing Herrera on the DL, the Phillies had to clear a roster spot. They took the unusual step of sending Nick Pivetta to Triple A moments after he struck out a career-high 11 batters on Wednesday.

It appears to be simply a procedural move. The Phillies play a doubleheader Tuesday against Miami and will be allowed to add a 26th man that day. Ordinarily, a player sent to the minors could not return for 10 days unless he replaces an injured player. By rule, Pivetta could come back and be the 26th man on Tuesday. He then would have to return to Triple A to complete the 10-day stint in the minors. The bottom line is he might not even miss a turn in the major-league rotation.

"With Herrera on the blocks, not knowing where he's at, we need a position player," Mackanin said. "With the doubleheader coming up, we have the option of adding an extra pitcher on the 22nd. So that's the reasoning there."

Pivetta took the move in stride.

"It is what it is," the 24-year-old righty said. "I know about as much as you guys. I'm going to go down and work hard. It will be fine. I'm going to be back up eventually. So we'll just keep moving day by day there."

Pivetta struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced on Wednesday. When the ninth batter, rival pitcher Clayton Richard, came to the plate, he asked catcher Cameron Rupp a question.

"Did he strike everybody out?" Richard asked.

Richard struck out, but eventually got the upper hand. He pitched a three-hit shutout to finish off a San Diego sweep (see story).

"It looked to me like Pivetta was going to have a Kerry Wood performance today," Mackanin said. "Eight strikeouts in the first three innings. He ended up with 11. He threw a lot of good secondary stuff for strikes, which is one of the goals we're working on for him to do. He carried it for a while. He needs to understand how to continue to carry that through five, six, seven or even eight innings. 

"He's a young pitcher. It's his first year in the big leagues. He's going to get it. He's going to be good. He needs to learn how to sustain that through more than five or six innings. That's when you get to be a real solid starter."