Sunday, July 30, 2017

Velasquez pieces together best start of season; Phillies win again in walk-off fashion

Philadelphia hurler Vince Velasquez
Vince Velasquez put his head down as he walked off the mound following the seventh inning on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park and pumped his fist twice. He knows his future, like so many other players on this young team, is in question.

His effort Sunday against the Braves was his best of the season, tossing 108 pitches over seven scoreless frames while surrendering six hits. Perhaps most impressive was his ability to escape the seventh unscathed after surrendering back-to-back singles to open the inning. He recorded the final two outs via strikeout, finishing with six on the day.

"Vinny showed a lot of poise on the mound today," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "That's the best I've seen him as far as mound presence is concerned and it's a really good step forward for him. It was huge for not just the team, but his progress and it's great to see that."

At the plate the day belonged to Freddy Galvis as he collected three hits, including the walk-off game-winner with a single to right to give the Phillies a 2-1 victory. It marked the second straight walk-off win for the Phillies and seventh of the season.

"I try and come in with my mindset ready to help the pitchers and help the team," Galvis said. "Confidence means a lot and we lost a lot of one-run games, but now we're winning those games so I think we need to keep on the same path and try and play hard for 27 outs."

Andrew Knapp opened the bottom portion of the ninth with a double down the left field line. Pinch-hitter Ty Kelly followed with a walk and Cesar Hernandez laid a bunt single down the third base line allowing Galvis to drive home Knapp with the game-winner.

In addition to driving in the winning run, Galvis also contributed with his glove with a pair of suburb grabs early in the contest to limit damage to Velasquez.

"He's a Gold Glover in my eyes right now," Velasquez said. "It makes things a whole lot easier. Him making plays with ease on a regular basis. It makes things easier for everybody."

Luis Garcia's 21 2/3 innings scoreless streak was snapped in the eighth as he allowed the Braves to even the contest at 1-1 after pinch-hitter Danny Santana singled to center, advanced on a wild pitch, moved over to third on Ender Inciarte's sacrifice bunt and ultimately crossed the plate on an errant throw home by Hernandez on a Brandon Phillips fielder's choice.

Odubel Herrera scored for the Phillies in the fourth, reaching on a bunt single before eventually scoring on a passed ball by Braves' catcher Kurt Suzuki. He's hitting .340 since the start of June, the highest of any major league centerfielder of that time span.

Braves starter R.A. Dickey tossed seven innings, surrendering six hits and three walks. He also uncorked four wild pitches, two of which contributed directly to Herrera crossing the plate for the Phillies.

As for Velasquez, he's now gone at least five innings and surrendered one earned run or none in three of his last five starts, something he did only once in his first eight starts to open the season.  He's heard the murmurs about the potential move to the bullpen, but that's not where he wants to be as the club moves forward in the rebuilding phase.

"I'm definitely planning on being in the rotation," Velasquez said. "We have some top arms in this organization, a lot of guys coming up as well, but I can only control what's going on in front of me right now. I mean, right now I'm 2-6 and I've given up a lot of home runs and walks, it's not been the best year on my end. The only thing I can control though is the stuff that's happening right now."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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