Phillies

Velasquez reverting to his old ways as Phillies get beaten down in Boston

Phillies

He recorded only seven outs but it was still a long night for Vince Velasquez, who looked overmatched against the Red Sox in his worst start of the season.

Handed leads in each of the first two innings, Velasquez gave up eight runs and three homers while walking four. 

The Phillies lost, 11-5, and are 42-44 with two games left before the All-Star break. They trail the Mets by five games in the NL East.

Velasquez’ last two starts have been problematic. Sunday at home against the Padres, he allowed two home runs to Manny Machado -- one on an 0-2 pitch and both with two outs. He lost concentration and control with two outs and nobody on in that game and walked two hitters ahead of Machado before a game-deciding three-run shot.

Friday in Boston, Velasquez became gun-shy after allowing a leadoff home run to Kiké Hernandez. He remarked after the game that he was trying to make putaway pitches on 2-0 counts. He walked three in the first but escaped with a two-run inning. 

Velasquez had two outs and a man on second in the second inning when he walked Alex Verdugo and was taken deep by J.D. Martinez for another game-deciding three-run shot.

"When he did throw strikes, he threw a lot of them over the middle," Joe Girardi said. "Free passes and the ball found the middle of the plate. He has to get back living on the corners. When you make mistakes, hitters in this league beat you. He’s got to straighten it out."

 

In these last two starts, Velasquez has allowed five home runs, walked seven and put 22 men on base in 8⅓ innings. His ERA has risen from 4.22 to 5.35.

Velasquez’ walk total has been a clear benchmark for success or failure this season. In the starts when he’s walked three or more batters, the Phillies are 2-5 and his ERA is 6.68. In the starts when he’s walked two or fewer, the Phillies are 5-2 and his ERA is 3.89.

"There’s been signs of improvements but also a lot of letdowns," Velasquez said. "There are areas I need to cover a little bit more. Limiting the walks, utilizing two-seam fastball command. This (All-Star break) is going to be a big reset for me."

Asked after the game if Velasquez would remain in the Phillies' rotation after the All-Star break, Girardi gave a firm yes.

"He’s a starter for us," the Phils' manager said. We haven’t made any changes."

The Phillies’ offense, which scored 39 runs and hit 13 homers in four games at Wrigley Field this week, carried some momentum over early. Jean Segura began the game with a triple and scored on J.T. Realmuto’s double. The Phillies stranded a man on third when Andrew McCutchen and Brad Miller struck out to end the opening frame. It was not a good omen against a high-powered offense like Boston’s.

The Phillies tacked on two more in the second when Alec Bohm singled in Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius.

But the pace to this game was brutally slow and the Phillies were taken completely out of it in the third inning when Velasquez and Enyel De Los Santos basically threw BP to the Red Sox.

By the bottom of the eighth, Ronald Torreyes was on the mound, joining Andrew Knapp and Nick Maton as the third Phillies position player to pitch in a game this season. Torreyes' inning was the highlight of the night for the pitching staff as he set down Christian Arroyo, Christian Vazquez and Bobby Dalbec in order on five pitches.

Left-hander Matt Moore (0-1, 5.60) starts for the Phillies Saturday opposite lefty Martín Perez (7-4, 3.89).

Perez made a quality start at Citizens Bank Park on May 21 in a win over the Phillies, striking out a season-high seven.

"We had a stinker tonight," Girardi said. "We need Matt Moore to go out and throw a good game for us."

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