The Philadelphia Phillies recorded their first victory of the 2016 season on Saturday night.
Velasquez, making his first official regular season start with the Phils since coming to the team from the Houston Astros as the lead piece in the off-season Ken Giles trade, was outstanding. He allowed just three hits, walking three and striking out nine Mets’ batters over six innings.
The outing continued the dominating pitching performances that won him a tough spring battle for the 5th starter role. During the Grapefruit League season down at spring training in Florida, Velasquez led the club with 20 innings pitched over which he allowed 15 hits with a 24/7 K:BB ratio.
Velasquez walked the first New York batter of the game, outfielder Curtis Granderson, and then allowed a two-out single to Lucas Duda in the bottom of the 1st inning. In the 3rd he surrendered a one-out double to Asdrubal Cabrera.
The only other bit of trouble that the right-hander found himself in all night was in the bottom of the 5th inning. He allowed a two-out single to Cabrera at that point, and then uncorked a wild pitch to move Cabrera into scoring position for Mets’ slugger Yoenis Cespedes. But Velasquez struck out Cespedes on a foul-tip 3rd strike held onto by catcher Cameron Rupp to get out of that jam.
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The Phillies once again did not deliver much offense in support of their young gun. Mets’ veteran starter Bartolo Colon was sharp himself, scattering five hits over six innings, striking out seven and walking none.
But leading off the top of the 5th, Ryan Howard got to him for his 2nd home run of the season, the 359th of his career. That would prove to be all the scoring on this miserable weather night. Unlike in the team’s previous games, the bullpen would make that run hold up.
With Velasquez having thrown 99 pitches, manager Pete Mackanin turned the game over to his bullpen in the 7th inning. Hector Neris, Daniel Stumpf, and David Hernandez succeeded in holding the lead into the 9th, where Jeanmar Gomez was given a chance to nail it down. Gomez came through with a 1-2-3 inning for his 2nd career Save, his first in a Phillies uniform, and the club had its first win of the young season.
“[I wanted to] show we’re capable of winning. We’re not losers,” said Velasquez per MLB.com staff writers Danny Knobler and Anthony DiComo. If he keeps pitching as he has since first donning a Phillies uniform, Velasquez could help accelerate this rebuilding process.