Citizens Bank Park opened its gates to a flood of Philly faithfuls as today marked the Phillies’ home opener! The team was set to take on the rival Nationals, and try and end their two-game skid. Although the latter ultimately did not happen, it certainly was a thrilling night.
Hard-throwing righty Vince Velasquez was on the bump and would get the first crack at the Nationals lineup. After retiring the first batter he faced, he walked the next batter and then allowed a two-run homer to future Phillie Bryce Harper (fingers crossed). Velasquez, however, rebounded nicely after the home run- striking out the next two batters to end the inning.
The young right-hander had the strikeout pitch working tonight. Velasquez recorded 10 Ks in just four innings of work, but as you can imagine, there is a reason he only lasted four innings. He allowed another two-run homer in the third inning, but the bigger problem was his inflated pitch count.
Velasquez threw an incredibly high 94 pitches through just four frames. Having a high pitch count can be attributed to his high strikeout total to an extent, but he must improve at retiring batters earlier in the count. His brief outing against the Nationals, however, was not as bad as it seems. Two of them 5 hits he allowed were two-run home runs, which likely won’t be the case nine times out of ten. Its encouraging to see that he still possesses excellent velocity and the ability to strike out batters at a high clip. I’m still very high on him, and Philly fans shouldn’t be too concerned with his performance today.
Joely Rodriguez, the pitcher who relieved Velasquez in the fifth inning, also had a forgettable outing versus the Nats. He allowed three runs on five hits in just two innings of work- making it a 7-0 Nats lead.
The young Phils refused to roll over in front of their fans, however, and battled back in the final four innings. Odubel Herrera recorded an RBI single in the sixth inning to put the team on the board for the first time this season at CBP. The comeback effort continued in the bottom of the seventh inning. Brock Stassi and Tommy Joseph started the inning with back to back walks. Stassi was later thrown out trying to advance to third on a wild pitch, but Joseph reached safely at second. Freddy Galvis came up big with a double to left center that scored Joseph, and Aaron Altherr followed that up with an even bigger two-run blast to right field. The homer cut the Nats lead to just three and we had a ballgame on our hands!
After holding the Nats silent in the eighth and ninth inning, the Phils found themselves in position to rally for a win in the bottom of the ninth. The fans fought the elements to show their love and support for the hometown team and it appeared that the Phils wanted make sure they didn’t leave disappointed.
Cameron Rupp got the inning started on a good note with a single up the gut. Freddy Galvis followed that up with a two-run bomb to right field- cutting the Nats lead to just one! Unfortunately, that was the last hit of the game for the young Phils.
Although the team ultimately came up short, it was definitely encouraging to see them battle back with everything they had, despite the odds they faced. The team drops to 1-3 on the season and will be back at CBP tomorrow night for Game 2 against the Nats.
Be sure to stay tuned right here at Philly Sports Network as we cover every Phillies game this season!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports