Phillies

Vince Velasquez stars in relief role, Pat Neshek heads home with an injury

Vince Velasquez stars in relief role, Pat Neshek heads home with an injury

MILWAUKEE — Nothing turns a frown upside down quite like two scoreless innings, four strikeouts, 97 mph on the radar gun, a pitching victory and a team victory.

Vince Velasquez began his day at Miller Park on Friday feeling irked that he was being sent to the bullpen on his first day off the injured list. His day began to get better after he had a little air-clearing meeting with manager Gabe Kapler and it ended with a blast of euphoria when he turned out to be one of the stars of the Phillies’ 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers (see observations).

“Great time,” Velasquez said after his first relief appearance of the season. “Great time.”

Velasquez entered a tie game in the fifth and survived a walk and a hit to the first two batters on his way to two scoreless innings. The enigmatic right-hander wasn’t the only bullpen star. He combined with Edgar Garcia, Adam Morgan, Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Neris (three Ks) on six shutout innings after Jerad Eickhoff departed after three innings.

There was some bad news out of the bullpen. Veteran right-hander Pat Neshek’s tumultuous week concluded with his feeling a pop in his shoulder while playing catch before the game. He is headed home to Philadelphia to be checked. He will go to the injured list and the Phils will add a pitcher for Saturday’s game.

The Phils’ bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. The six innings pitched Friday night upped its total to 47 1/3 innings over the last 12 games. That’s the third most in the majors over that span. The relievers have recorded a 3.61 ERA over that span.

After the game, Kapler was asked if he was concerned about the number of innings — both in the short term and cumulatively — that the bullpen was being forced to pick up because the starters aren’t getting deep into games. He did not directly answer the question.

“I think what inspires me is that we’ve leaned on them and they continue to bounce back and be resilient and today they won the baseball game for us,” he said.

The bullpen had some help in winning the baseball game.

On defense, catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura combined to cut down a run at the plate to help Velasquez get out of the fifth. It was a huge play and the Phils took the lead the next inning. Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins all had big, run-scoring hits to help the Phils tie and take control of the game.

But Kapler was right. The work of the bullpen was huge, especially against a team that outscored the Phils 22-6 over the final three games of a four-game series last week in Philadelphia.

Velasquez gave the ‘pen a huge lift.

“Wow,” Kapler said. “Especially in the second inning of work. He was just electric and as good as we’ve seen him. The fastball was exploding like we’ve seen in some starts, but I can’t remember the last time it looked that good. The second inning of work was really impressive.”

Could Velasquez continue to be a bullpen weapon?

“I think that remains to be seen because like I said earlier, I’d like to see how he responds tomorrow and how his body bounces back,” Kapler said. “I will say this: there was a little bit of a delivery change in the second inning. He used his backside a little bit more effectively and really drove his momentum towards home plate. The ball was just jumping out of his hand tremendously.”

Realmuto said Velasquez has the stuff to succeed in any role. But as a reliever …

“I think he has the stuff to succeed whether we throw him out there as a starter, throw him out there as a middle relief guy, late-inning guy,” Realmuto said. “He's got the stuff to play anywhere, you know? He's got the stuff to get through the lineup multiple times and then the role like tonight, his stuff just plays up. Coming into the middle of the game like that, it's hard to get on time for stuff like that when they haven't seen it yet, so I feel like he can succeed in any role we put him in.

“He was huge for us today. He came out throwing bullets. It's fun to be back there catching him again. Obviously saw how much life he had on his fastball. I felt like after his first hitter, he really honed in on it and just let it rip. It was huge for us.”

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

The Phillies will play 40% of their games against the Braves over the next four days, making this a massive early-season NL East series.

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss that and more on the latest Phillies Talk podcast.

• How do Phils and Braves match up in 2020?

• How often can the Phillies' bullpen do what it did in series finale vs. Yankees?

• They're lucky to have Hector Neris.

• Starting pitching has been good so far — particularly Zack Wheeler.

• Phillies quietly Top 6 in on-base percentage and slugging.

• Phillies bound for regression one way or the other.

• Yankees complaints.

• J.T. owes the fans a pizza.

• Will we hear the air horn every game now?

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Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Phillies fans who angered Aaron Boone clown Yankees manager for complaining to umps

Pandemic, shmandemic: Philadelphia sports fans are a different breed.

After the Phillies topped the red-hot Yankees on Thursday night, the prevailing storyline wasn't J.T. Realmuto's continued production, or Zach Eflin's strong outing. 

Everyone was talking about Yankees manager Aaron Boone whining about some Phillies fans making a little noise at the ballpark.

Boone stopped play on Thursday to complain about a group of Phillies fans, who call themselves 'The Phandemic Krew', for blowing airhorns when Yankees players were at the plate.

Yes, seriously:

Hmm. Not exactly that tough New York mindset, eh?

Boone complained after the game about the "timing element" of the fans' distractions, because apparently his highly-trained athletes aren't locked in enough to batter the Phillies' bullpen if a few guys from South Jersey make a little noise. 

Unsurprisingly, Phillies fans weren't going to let Boone's antics go unnoticed.

On Friday morning, two members of The Phandemic Krew jumped on 97.5 The Fanatic to talk with Marc Farzetta about getting under Boone's skin, and they went absolutely in on the Yanks' manager.

Here's Oscar, who hails from Camden County, putting it perfectly:

OSCAR: When I was doing it, we were kinda laughing about it, like we did it when Stanton was batting. And they had the TVs out there for us, they put the TVs out there for us, and I was like, 'Yo, I think Boone's complaining about us.' And someone was like, 'They just tweeted about us, complaining about us.' So right away we were like, 'Yo, Boone!' 

FARZETTA: Was it a point of pride when you realized you're a Philadelpha fan, who's not allowed to be in the stadium, and you were still having an impact and getting in the manager's head?

OSCAR: That's definitely a point of pride. I mean, you're talking about Boone, last year they were 'savages', and now they're crying about airhorns. It's definitely some pride, and listen, there's no stopping us. We're still going to be out here for the rest of the season.

That's perfect. Just perfect.

If you missed the reference: a viral hot-mic clip of Boone arguing with umps heard him using some very interesting language to describe his players last season.

Now he's mad about a few horns? You've gotta keep that same energy, Boone!

To top it all off, Phillies fan Taylor Valdez lobbed this idea to the Phandemic Krew, just a little icing on the cake:

Don't be surprised if those shirts start popping up in the Philadelphia area.

As the fans noted, members of the Phandemic Krew were socially distant, they wore masks, and they had hand sanitizer aplenty. They even put a mask on the Phillie Phanatic in their gigantic Phandemic Krew sign. They were taking the COVID-19 pandemic just as seriously as they take Phillies baseball.

The message is clear: don't mess with Philly fans.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
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