Entering the contest riding a three game winning streak, the Phillies were set to take on the Rays down in Tampa for their first interleague play of the season. The hard-throwing righty Vince Velasquez was set to take the mound and would be backed by the following lineup:
Vince Velasquez gets the start in game one of an Interleague series with the Rays in St. Pete.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 13, 2018
Oddly, Phils’ skipper Gabe Kapler opted to go with Kingery at third base over Maikel Franco, and keep outfielder Aaron Altherr in the lineup- despite his dreadful performance at the dish. Franco has been on somewhat of a tear lately, so this is another puzzling move by Kap, but the young Phillies would have to search for their fourth consecutive win without the dominican slugger. Let’s recap game one of three in Tampa:
After surrendering the first and only run scored through the first five innings for either club in the bottom of the second, Velasquez really settled in nicely. His fastball was simply electric in game one, as he was still topping 95 MPH in the seventh inning- his final frame of work. All in all, Vinny allowed one run on just four hits and struck out seven batters in 6 2⁄3 innings. The most impressive aspect of his performance, however, is the fact that he paced himself throughout the night and maintained a reasonable pitch count. Velasquez was relieved after throwing 93 pitches and an absolute gem of a game. It was his second consecutive start where he allowed one run on four hits, and could be the start of him evolving into the ace the team envisioned when they acquired him in a trade with Houston.
Forgot the Bats in Philly?
After batting all over and around the Reds in the last series, the Phillies offense looked sluggish in the series opener against Tampa. The usual driving forces- Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, and Rhys Hoskins- left much to be desired at the plate. The trio hit a combined 1-for-9 to go along with four strikeouts. Luckily for them- as well as the team- Velasquez had it going on the mound and the Phils didn’t need a ton of runs to pull out the victory.
Ring the Bell
The Phillies finally scored a couple runs late in the ballgame, due to some clutch RBI singles by Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro, and were able to squeeze passed the Rays 2-1 for their fourth consecutive win. Pitching has certainly been a bright spot for Philly over the last few series, and hopefully this trend continues on Saturday when the team sends Jake Arrieta to the mound for his second career start in red pinstripes. He’ll be facing off against Chris Archer (1-0, 5.94 ERA) as the Phils try to extend their winning streak to five.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports