Listen, I’m not a big Vince Velasquez guy anymore. In the past, I was a staunch defender of the guy, believing the stuff would eventually win out, his head would clear itself up long enough and he could put all the pieces together to give the team an effective pitcher for more than 2 innings at a time.
Lately, I’ve just found myself fed up with him as a pitcher. Looking for a reason to bring him back after this season has proven futile, seeing his continued 4 inning/90+ pitch outings that take 2 hours to be a complete waste of time to watch anymore.
Tonight, though, Velasquez battled for six innings, fighting his stuff and his control before winning out and giving the team a chance to win.
It was a good thing too, since this game turned into a quasi-pitcher’s duel for quite a while. The Phillies’ offense, humming these past few days, was facing the Blue Jays’ ace in Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has been pretty good since signing as a free agent this past offseason. Through the first four inning, both pitchers weren’t with their best stuff, but they put zeroes on the scoreboard, limiting baserunners as much as possible. In the fifth, though, the Blue Jays struck first when Travis Shaw saw a changeup to his liking and hit a moonshot into the right field stands.
The Mayor Just Rang The Bell!— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 19, 2020
DING DONG pic.twitter.com/MjLhoksf9C
Amazingly, that would be one of only two hits Velasquez would allow on the evening. Though he threw his customary tons of pitches in a short amount of time, he gave Joe Girardi six very solid innings, something that was badly needed for this team.
In the bottom of the inning, the Phillies’ offense woke up against Ryu. Jay Bruce started it off with a double off of the base of the left field wall with nobody out. Scott Kingery bunted him to third and Andrew Knapp brought him home.
We've said it before, but we'll say it again ...— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 19, 2020
Don't sleep on Knapp. pic.twitter.com/wlzWmeciQy
Adam Haseley singled Knapp to third, bringing Andrew McCutchen up, who delivered for the team and gave them the lead.
Andrew McCutchen gives the #Phillies a 2-1 lead. #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/l1NuyoRDMO— Justin Groc (@jgroc) September 20, 2020
That lead would last into the eighth inning when the team loaded the bases with two out, needing just one more run to make sure there was some wiggle room for the bullpen. Haseley delivered that run.
To the ninth we go! pic.twitter.com/Nb8Rm6qC0x— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 20, 2020
Now, we’ve glossed over a key part of this game - the bullpen.
I don’t need to remind you of their performance, you already know. What we do know is that tonight, the triumverate of Blake Parker, David Phelps and Tommy Hunter were outstanding. Each reliever shut down the Toronto attack and kept the Phillies lead intact. It was an unexpected thing to see, but a welcome one.
Having won three in a row from the Blue Jays, the Phillies are that much closer to making the playoffs, Sweeping Toronto, which they’ll try and do tomorrow, would be outstanding.