By Annie Ross
Phillies starter Vince Velasquez called his early-season performances “terrible,” “horrible,” and “lousy.”
“It’s just amazing how I dominate, throwing no-hitters in bullpens,” Velasquez said following last night’s 5-4 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. “If I could take that over here it’d be amazing. It’s just a matter of regathering. Just letting my athletic ability take over. Not be too fine with my stuff.”
Velasquez allowed five hits, three runs, three walks, one home run and struck out two in six innings.
The Phillies and Velasquez look at his first five innings as a reason to be encouraged. Velasquez threw five scoreless innings to start the game, retiring 13 of 15 batters at one point. He got 10 outs on ground balls.
Compare that to his first two starts when he struck out 17 in nine innings, but allowed 10 hits, seven walks, three home runs and threw 194 pitches.
“It was just a matter of being in control, not trying to do too much,” Velasquez said. “Not try to be a powerful pitcher. Just be in control of my situation. Try to get ahead of the guys and put them away. I got ground ball[s] on two-seam, one-pitch outs. There were a lot of hard-hit balls that were outs, too.
“But again, I’m pretty comfortable with the outcome. There’s more work to be done. I’m not too complacent here. Got to move forward.”
“Vinny really pitched well for the first five innings,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He had them off balance. He was changing speeds. Great changeup. Hitting location. It looked like he was cruising.”
Then the sixth inning happened.
Velasquez had two outs and nobody on base, when he allowed a single to Asdrubal Cabrera and walked Yoenis Cespedes. He then threw a first-pitch changeup to Jay Bruce, who ripped the ball to right field for a three-run home run to hand the Mets a 3-2 lead. Bruce also hit a game-winning two-run homer in the eighth.
“Bruce is just a mistake hitter,” Velasquez said. “You make one mistake and he can turn it around. I know not to do that again. That could’ve been eliminated if I got out Cabrera or could have gotten out Cespedes without walking him. Again, that’s on me.”
But Velasquez left the ballpark upbeat. He thinks he figured out something.
“I was attacking hitters,” he said. “I got a lot of contact outs. I think if I can substitute strikeouts for a lot more outs in that way then by all means I’m going to do that. It shows I don’t need to be a power pitcher to get outs.”