Finally. We FINALLY got a taste of live baseball for the first time in FOUR MONTHS... and it was glorious. Our starters tonight were, as stipulated by Joe Girardi during last night’s Zoom Presser, Zack Wheeler for the Pinstriped Phils, and Vince Velasquez for the All-Reds.
Zack Wheeler started off hot. It took him 7 pitches to mow down 3 hitters — so they gave him a 4th hitter, Rhys Hoskins, who he took down in 3 pitches. So they gave him a 5th hitter, Jay Bruce, who he subsequently walked — but they ended the inning anyway, as one does in these weird, intrasquad face-offs.
Vince Velasquez then took to the mound, and induced a weak fly ball from Andrew McCutchen. Roman Quinn followed, who smacked one to the warning track in left center, but Kyle Garlick was able to track it down and record the second out. Then came the pinstripes’ slugger, Bryce Harper, who VV bamboozled with a really good curveball — thus setting down the home Phils in order.
Wheeler’s next inning wasn’t as smooth, but he still made it look effortless. Wheeler gave up a leadoff single to Andrew Knapp, but then set Garlick and Phil Gosselin down on strikes. Then, after taking Knapp off the base paths for whatever reason, Alec Bohm stepped into the box, and promptly walked...thus ending the inning.
Velasquez came back for seconds, and induced a hot shot one-hopper from J.T. Realmuto, then set Scott Kingery AND Neil Walker down on strikes. He then faced Logan Forsythe for a 4th out, and set him down no problem. Velasquez looked ridiculously good both today and five days ago. He’s locked in.
Adam Haseley led off against Zack Wheeler to start the 3rd and poked a dribbler down the right field line... but nobody covered first... so he was safe? I dunno, that was a weird one. Logan Forsythe proceeded to make an excellent play a third to retire Jean Segura, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate. He grounded out, and Hoskins came to the plate representing the 4th out of the inning. He grounded out too... so there’s that.
Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the 3rd against Vinny Velo, and lifted a ball deep into the right corner, but Nick Martini was able to track it down. Velasquez then K’d Nick Williams with an absolutely disgusting cutter-curveball sequence, but let up a grounded single to Ronald Torreyes. It was McCutchen’s turn to ground out after that, and then Quinn came in as the 4th “out” of the inning. He hit Vince hard again, lacing a single out to left center — but that, again, ended the inning.
Bruce led off the 4th with a hard-hit single to right, but was then doubled up on a shift-gobbled dribbler from Knapp. Garlick popped out to Josh Harrison, and Gosselin came in as a 4th out, and then Martini struck out for the 5th out. That would do it for Wheeler — he was excellent tonight. Didn’t allow a single hard hit ball, and had everything working well.
Velasquez took to the mound one last time, and immediately walked Harper on four pitches — not the best start. He then got into a battle with Realmuto, which ended in a GIDP — something we don’t see often from Vince. Kingery approached the plate and, you guessed it, struck out swinging.
But we didn’t stop there! Neil Walker came in as the 4th out, and HE struck out — giving Velasquez a total of 6 on the night. He was stellar. He dominated the Pinstripe Phils’ lineup left and right. It’s definitely exciting to see him succeed. Girardi made it a point of saying how he was better as the game went on, specifically mentioning his cutter, which he’s been working on steadily, and his curveball. When asked about whether he has moved into the lead for the 5th starter’s spot, Girardi deftly maneuvered around it, not committing to it.
Wheeler was relieved by LHP Francisco Liriano, who has a very good chance to make the big club out of camp. Liriano got Bohm to ground out to short, and let up a single to Adam Haseley — who was subsequently doubled-off on a GIDP.
Jose Alvarez took over on the mound for Velasquez, and he, too, turned in a really quick inning — aided by a brilliant play from Segura at 3rd.
Liriano came in for another inning of work, and let up a single to Hoskins, followed by a walk to Bruce, and then an RBI double from Knapp, making it 1-0 All-Reds. His second inning was not as quick, but what I saw from Francisco Liriano tonight was solid. Again, almost a surefire add to the initial 30-man roster.
Alvarez also came out for a second inning, and, after giving up a single to McCutchen, struck out Quinn, and then gave up a double to Harper...which then ended the inning.
The lauded side-armer, Trevor Kelley, was next to pitch for the Pinstriped Phils. He walked Gosselin to lead off the top of the 7th, but proceeded to strike out Martini AND Alec Bohm AND Segura. Pretty good showing from him.
Edgar Garcia took over for Alvarez in the bottom of the 7th, and started with a bang by striking out Realmuto, but then gave up a bang to Kingery — who slapped a home run into the first row of seats in right field, making it a 1-1 game.
Addison Russ then stepped to the bump for the Pinstripes, He yielded a single to Gregorius, and then walked Hoskins, Garlick, AND Gosselin — which, you guessed it, ended the inning. These intrasquad rules are weird.
Edgar Garcia came back out — same story. He gives up a hard double to Josh Harrison, and he walks Williams. Then, Torreyes snags his second hit of the night, driving in Josh Harrison, and Logan O’Hoppe singled, making it 3-1 Pinstriped Phils. Garrett Cleavinger was the next arm on the mound, and he was able to face off against his old Reading teammate, Bohm — who singled off him. And then...Kingery switched teams, walked, but then came back to swing more, and struck out...? I promise it was definitely as confusing as it sounds.
Next to the mound, the fireballer, Robert Stock, who struck out 3 of the 4 batters he faced. He was excellent. His 100+ mph fastball is super powerful, and his changeup against lefties is dangerous. Really good showing. Cleavinger came in for one more trouble-less inning, and then came my personal favorite Phillies bullpen prospect — Connor Brogdon, who K’d two on his way to a scoreless inning.
It wasn’t the cleanest of games, but hey: it was baseball. Something we have sorely missed.