Love me some solid Vince Velasquez starts. Also love me some good offense, timely hitting and a Neris save to cap it all off.
You know those rare games when you have Velasquez on the mound, dealing, keeping his pitch count at a manageable level? They’re the games where no matter what he does, the offense never seems to be able to do anything to support him. Can’t get the two out hit to drive in a few, a cheapie home run, nothing. Today, it was different.
Velasquez kept an Atlanta Braves lineup that is clearly missing Josh Donaldson off the board through the first four innings, allowing only two baserunners during this time. When the Phillies came to bat in the bottom of the fourth, they needed to help him out a bit. Jean Segura was hit by the first pitch of the inning before Bryce Harper struck out looking. J.T. Realmuto doubled Segura to third, leaving two men in scoring position with only one out. Didi Gregorius struck out and brought hopes down a bit, but Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases and Rhys Hoskins was walked himself, scoring the first run. Scott Kingery followed with a two-run single that made it 3-0.
The score stayed that way as Velasquez stayed on cruise control into the sixth. Once Freddie Freeman hit a two-out double, Girardi made a quick hook and brought in Adam Morgan to turn Ozzie Albies around. The move worked as Albies grounded out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kingery doubled to lead off, Neil Walker was intentionally walked and both were moved over to scoring position when Roman Quinn grounded out. Segura singled in Kingery and Harper singled in Walker, making the score 5-0. In the top of the eighth, the Braves got to Ranger Suarez when Johan Camargo hit a two-run home run, but that was all they’d get. Hector Neris, after a few unseemly outings, locked down the ninth quite easily, giving the ballgame to the Phils.
Velasquez’s solid start sent his ERA below 3, the first Phillies pitcher to be anywhere near that number this season in the rotation.
The two teams square off again tomorrow night when Aaron Nola takes the bump for the Phillies.