Final Score: Phillies 5, Blue Jays 1
Friday night’s game at the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays looked to be another clunker for the Phillies offense. By the end of the fifth inning, the Phillies had already struck out nine times against a pitcher who has a career ERA over six against them. It seemed like they were missing every pitch thrown down the middle of the plate. They squandered two key opportunities to score runs.
Then the seventh inning happened. Nick Maton and Andrew McCutchen struck out following an Andrew Knapp walk. The Blue Jays bullpen went on to walk three consecutive Phillies hitters. After a walk to J.T. Realmuto tied the game, Rhys Hoskins delivered with a bases-clearing double. Alec Bohm followed up with a double of his own. The lineup combined to walk eight times.
All of this was behind yet another solid outing from starter Vince Velasquez. Considering that the Blue Jays are top ten in MLB in home runs, hits, batting average and slugging percentage, the 28-year-old should be happy with his start.
- Odúbel Herrera caught a hard-hit line drive from Rowdy Tellez. The runner on second, Cavan Biggio, didn’t get a good read on the ball and was doubled up at second for the final out of the second inning. It was a key play for Velasquez, who was already at 15 pitches thrown in the inning with only one out and two runners on.
- The Phillies were able to load the bases with two outs, but Realmuto, who is back after spending one day on the COVID-IL, was unable to bring home a run in the top of the third. The previous batter Bryce Harper was granted a free pass on a pitch that caught the top of the strike zone. He checked his swing, but the third base umpire said no swing. The replay showed that the bat went around.
- Two innings later, Realmuto had another chance to get the Phillies on the board with runners in scoring position. Instead, he struck out swinging on Matz’s 106th pitch of the game, a 95 mph fastball. Realmuto is 7-for-26 with 12 RBIs this season with runners in scoring position.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went opposite field to bury his ninth home run of the season and give Toronto a 1-0. Velasquez was bailed out twice by the wind: once on a ball hit by Bo Bichette to left-center field and another off the bat of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. This time around, he wasn’t as fortunate.
- Once again, Realmuto was up to the plate with a golden opportunity to tie the game. Facing Tim Mayza, Realmuto walked in a run. It was the third consecutive walk (fourth of the inning) following two strikeouts at the beginning of the inning.
- Seven batters later, Hoskins became the first Phillies hitter of the inning to put a ball in play. He got a 2-1 sinker and lined it into the left-center field gap to clear the bases, giving the Phillies a commanding three-run lead.
- Bohm, who struggled at the plate all throughout the game and for most of the season, caught a break when Teoscar Hernandez misplayed a ball at the wall in right field. Hoskins scored from second to make it a 5-1 ballgame. Overall, the Phillies sent nine men to the plate and scored five runs in the seventh inning.
- Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, José Alvarado and Héctor Neris combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Brogdon earned his fourth win of the season, which ties him for the league lead in wins among relievers. He had not won a game since April 7.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Steven Matz: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 SO, 106 pitches
The Phillies have seen plenty of Matz over the years. It’s only fitting that they had to face the former Mets pitcher in their first game of the season against the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old gave up six earned runs in his last outing against Philadelphia. Tonight was much better from a results standpoint for Matz. He was able to finesse his way out of jams in the third and fifth innings and rack up some strikeouts on balls that were thrown right down the middle.
Vince Velasquez: 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 94 pitches
The surprise of the year may be that Vince Velasquez is fine — or at least OK enough to pass as the Phillies’ fourth starter for the time being. After today, Velasquez has a 2.84 ERA since replacing Matt Moore in the rotation. All of his runs surrendered as a starter this season have come off a home run ball. He’s thrown into the sixth inning in each of his last three starts and according to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia, it’s the first time in Velasquez’s career that he has thrown at least five innings of one-run ball over three consecutive outings.
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Rhys Hoskins
The Phillies first baseman has had an up-and-down season so far. When he’s hot, he looks like one of the best hitters in baseball. When he’s off, he’s striking out at a high rate and struggling to contribute. The Phillies hope his three-run double in the seventh is a precursor to his next scorching hot streak.
Quote of the Game
Velasquez was asked about what he can do to remain consistent on the mound.
“You know what, I talked to Caleb [Cotham] the other day and I told him ‘Honestly man I just have a direction. I have a sense of direction of what I’m doing. I know where I’m going. I know where I need to be in certain positions with my body. I know where I need to stand. I know how I need to feel the next day to get ready.’ It’s just a matter of preparation. You’re only going to be as good as you prepare. I’ve been doing that on an everyday basis. And I think the consistency factor has shown. Because of the work I’m putting in on a day-to-day basis.”
Ticket IQ Next Game
- Saturday, May 15 vs. Toronto Blue Jays at 7:37 pm ET.
- NBC Sports Philadelphia
- 94 WIP
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