Velasquez makes case for Phillies’ rotation is win vs. Jays
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies starting pitching hopeful Vince Velasquez allowed two runs in four innings in an 8-5 win Saturday against a Toronto Blue Jays’ star-studded lineup.
Velasquez gave up a booming single off the right field wall to reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson in the first inning, but he responded by getting Jose Bautista on a foul out and Troy Tulowitzki on a strikeout to end any possible threat.
“I just like the way he attacks,” Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said.
In the third, Velasquez set the same All-Star trio down 1-2-3 in a perfect inning.
“That’s a tough lineup,” said the 23-year-old Velasquez, acquired in the December trade that sent Ken Giles to the Houston Astros. “I’ve never faced this team before. The first time I faced them (earlier this spring), that was only Donaldson, and I nailed him in the ribs. I wanted to bounce back from that outing. I gave up two. Things happen.”
The right-hander struggled with fastball command, particularly against the bottom of the Blue Jays’ order. Velasquez is competing with left-handers Brett Oberholtzer and Adam Morgan for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation.
J.P. Arencibia and David Lough each hit two-run homers and Obubel Herrera went 2-of-3 with an RBI to fuel the Phillies’ offense. Outfield prospect Nick Williams, who came to Philadelphia last summer from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade, added a three-run homer in the eighth.
Phillies: Velasquez needed 64 pitches to get through four innings, his longest start of the spring. He allowed two runs in the second inning, then issued a walk with one on and no one out and made an error on a pickoff throw attempt. “I guess my fastballs were all over the place,” he said. “I have to do something else other than throw fastballs, fastballs, fastballs.”
Blue Jays: R.A. Dickey allowed three runs on five hits in 4 1-3 innings, but his only mistake may have been trying to sneak a curveball by nine-hole hitter David Lough with one on and one out in the third inning. Lough hit a two-run homer. “It was a situation to work on something, a little fastball in, and it ran back over the plate,” he said. “In an in-season game I wouldn’t have messed with it. But it was a great opportunity and a great spot to try to use that and get some feedback from it and I got some great feedback. I need to execute it a little bit better.”
Phillies: C J.P. Arencibia was removed from the game after hitting a double in the second inning. He previously fouled a ball off his toe, an injury not considered serious. . RHP Jerad Eickhoff (small right thumb fracture) allowed three earned runs on four hits in a minor league game. He could make his next appearance this week in what would be his first Grapefruit League game of the spring. . RHP David Hernandez (triceps tendinitis) threw a side bullpen session without issue on Saturday. He hasn’t pitched in a game since March 1. . OF/INF Cody Asche (right oblique) remains day to day.
Blue Jays: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion was one of the few regulars not in the Jays’ lineup on Saturday. He is scheduled to take batting practice on Sunday and is hoping to make his spring debut on Wednesday or Thursday after missing the first two weeks of games while recovering from having an abscessed tooth pulled.
OVER AND OUT
The Phillies reassigned right-handed pitchers Greg Burke and Gregory Infante to minor league camp before Saturday’s game. Both relievers had allowed two runs in two of their three spring appearances.
The Phillies will travel to Tampa to take on the New York Yankees.
The Blue Jays will host the Tampa Bay Rays.