By Lewis Gould
You might want to hold off on the Vince Velasquez to the Hall of Fame talk.
At least for another start!
Phillies’ fireballer Velasquez’s first two starts showed everybody just how dominant he can be. His third start last night showed everybody he is not quite a superhero.
“We’re all human,” Velasquez said following the Phillies’ 11-1 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. “We make mistakes.”
Velasquez allowed five hits, five runs (two earned), and two home runs and struck out four in just 4 1/3 innings. He appeared to grab his left side as he left the mound in the fifth, but he said he is fine.
“I’m good,” Velasquez said. “It was a little itch, yeah. Just throw your arm up or something. Frustration, you want to throw your glove down, you know?”
He began his Phillies’ career with 25 strikeouts in 15 scoreless innings, joining Curt Schilling (2002), Nolan Ryan (1978) and Karl Spooner (1954) as the only pitchers in baseball history to strike out 25 batters in their first two starts of a season. He also joined Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Max Scherzer as the only pitchers in baseball history to throw a shutout with 16 or more strikeouts, zero walks and three or fewer hits, which he accomplished Thursday against San Diego.
Velasquez had been the talk of the town, but the Mets, facing him the second time in 10 days, jumped on him early.
David Wright hit a one-out double to left field in the first inning, and Michael Conforto followed with a two-run home run to right to make it 2-0. An error from Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in the third inning proved costly. Conforto hit a two-out single to put two on. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a two-out, three-run home run to left field to make it 5-0.
Conforto and Cespedes both hit 0-2 curveballs.
“There’s nothing wrong with the pitch selection,” Velasquez said. “It’s just bad location.”
Velasquez hung both pitches. He said he wanted to bury them, though he acknowledged that he wished he had thrown Cespedes an 0-2 fastball up in the strike zone instead.
“Why I agreed to the pitch, I don’t know why,” Velasquez said. “Maybe it was just the heat of the moment and I just went with it. … Cespedes was just waiting on it the whole time. It’s bad on my part. Bad pitching, bad execution. I take full responsibility for that.”
Velasquez, who said he battled a stomach bug Monday, makes his next start next Tuesday against the Nationals in D.C. He said he has a few things to work on.
Perhaps the Phillies’ offense will be hitting by then. The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in nine consecutive games, their longest stretch since a nine-game drought in May 2011. The Phillies also have not had 10 hits in a game in their first 15 games. It is the longest stretch like that to start a season since the 1978 Mets.
“We’re just not having fun,” Velasquez said. “All through spring we were having so much fun, in the dugout, outside the dugout. We need to stop being timid. We have to be a little more upright, be fun, start enjoying ourselves. I think we’ll be all right. It’s early. It shouldn’t be any added pressure.”