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Phillies, Velasquez seek series victory against Pirates


Velasquez looks to rebound after a rough outing in Miami on Friday night. (Ian D’Andrea)

The Philadelphia Phillies (68-63) close out their three-game set this evening with the Pittsburgh Pirates (56-76) after the two teams split the first pair of games to open the series. The Phils took game one in the 11th inning, thanks to a walk-off home run from Sean Rodriguez. In game 2, the Phillies and Pirates were tied going into the ninth, but a costly error by Rhys Hoskins allowed Pittsburgh to come away with a 5-4 win.

With the Phillies loss on Tuesday, combined with a Cubs win over the Mets, Philadelphia now sits two games behind Chicago for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. The Mets are three games back while the Brewers are 3.5 back.

Tonight at Citizens Bank Park, Vince Velasquez returns for the mound looking to bounce back from blowing a 7-0 lead on Friday against the Marlins. Up until that outing, Velasquez had looked pretty strong in the rotation, allowing three runs or less in seven of his last 11 starts dating back to June 16. Unfortunately, Velasquez has still had some problems going deep into games. In his past 11 starts, he’s made it longer than 5.2 innings just once.

Meanwhile, the struggles continue for Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins. As if his hitting woes weren’t enough, his fielding error in the top of the ninth on what looked to be a routine double play ended up costing the Phillies. Despite his regression, Hoskins has been moved from lead-off to the four hole tonight against the Pirates. Over his last 43 at-bats, Hoskins is hitting just .121 with an on-base percentage of .302. Hoskins spoke to reporters after the game and said he has no plans to take a day off, even with his post All-Star Break funk.

“No, absolutely not,” he said about a potential day off. “We’re in a playoff push right now.”

Scott Kingery makes his return to the starting lineup this evening after dealing with abdominal soreness for the past couple days. He did strike out in a pinch-hit opportunity on Tuesday night.

Phillies Lineup

  1. Corey Dickerson (LF)
  2. J.T. Realmuto (C)
  3. Bryce Harper (RF)
  4. Rhys Hoskins (1B)
  5. Jean Segura (SS)
  6. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
  7. Scott Kingery (3B)
  8. Adam Haseley (CF)
  9. Vince Velasquez (P)

Pirates Lineup

  1. Kevin Newman (SS)
  2. Bryan Reynolds (LF)
  3. Starling Marte (CF)
  4. Josh Bell (1B)
  5. Colin Moran (3B)
  6. Jose Osuna (RF)
  7. Elias Diaz (C)
  8. Adam Frazier (2B)
  9. Steven Brault (P)

Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Matchup

  • Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.93 ERA) vs. Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.24 ERA)
  • Velasquez has not gone up against the Pirates this season. He’s 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates. Outfielder Starling Marte is 3-3 lifetime against Velasquez with a double.
  • Pirates rookie Mitch Keller is facing the Phillies for the first time in his career. This will be his seventh start for Pittsburgh. In his last outing, he pitched six innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 win over the Reds.

Pregame Phillies Nuggets

  • Phillies closer Hector Neris has given up runs in each of his last two outings. Up to that point, he had not given up a run since July 18 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Neris has four saves in August to go along with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings.
  • Philadelphia’s Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, earn a berth to the Eastern League playoffs with a win tonight at home against Bowie. Phillies top prospect Spencer Howard will take the mound. He’s 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in five Double-A starts.
  • Corey Dickerson is hitting .286 since joining the Phillies on August 2. Over his last four games alone, he’s 7-for-17 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs.
  • Pirates starter Mitch Keller is the team’s No.1 ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The 23-year-old threw first-strike pitches to 24 of the 28 batters he faced in his last outing against the Reds.
  • Pittsburgh shortstop Kevin Newman is hitting .323 in 217 at-bats in the lead-off spot. He’s hit eight doubles, three triples and six home runs while scoring 32 runs.

Ticket IQ Programming Information

  • 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27 at Citizens Bank Park
  • NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • SportsRadio 94 WIP

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