Vince Velasquez strong in return from DL to help Phillies blank Diamondbacks



PHOENIX — From the effort and his physical presence, Phillies starter Vince Velasquez could not have asked for much more.

Coming off the disabled list from a right biceps strain, Velasquez looked like he did not miss a beat from his high-level performances earlier this season during Monday's 8-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks (see Instant Replay)

After one rehab start at Double A Reading on June 22, and not facing major-league competition since he started June 8 against the Cubs, Velasquez lasted five strong innings. When Velasquez reached a pitch count of 84, manager Pete Mackanin took no further liberties.

In helping to dominate the Diamondbacks before 22,567 at Chase Field, Velasquez raised his season mark to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.38.

“My goal was to throw at least five innings and get the W,” Velasquez said. “I was OK with stopping at [84] pitches, and have full confidence in the recovery. This was a good start and something to build on and grow.”

Before Velasquez’s start Monday night, Mackanin said the right-hander was not on a short leash. The pregame forecast was 90 pitches, and Mackanin hoped for five or six innings. Velasquez reached the five-inning mark but hit the mid-80s on his pitch count as he allowed five hits and walked none while striking out seven hitters. That was the most Velasquez fanned since he struck out 10 Marlins at home on May 17.

While Velasquez pounded the strike zone and stayed ahead of hitters, Mackanin said one of the key plays took place early. In a scoreless game, Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura led off the third with a single. Michael Bourn then lined out to center, and after Odubel Herrera made the catch he fired to first and caught Segura in a double play. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single, but Velasquez reached back to strike out Jake Lamb.

“When the ball was hit, the runner was going,” Herrera said of the double play. “After I caught it, I thought I had a chance to get him.”

Herrera's bat also stood out. Sparking a season-high 16-hit attack for the Phillies, Herrera matched a club high in hits with a 4-for-5 night. The four hits were achieved three other times by a Phillie this season, the last by Cesar Hernandez on June 23 against the Twins.

The Phillies broke open a scoreless tie with a two-spot in the sixth and set another season mark with six runs in the seventh. Previously, their season best was a five-run inning on June 5 against the Brewers. 

Run-producing singles from Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp in the sixth gave the Phillies' arms all they needed. In the seventh, Herrera and Cody Asche drove in a run each with hits, Franco singled in a pair and Hernandez knocked in two with a single.

“On this trip we’re swinging the bats very well,” Mackanin said. “We started off slowly against [Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray], but picked it up. It was good to see the offense come alive, and we’re playing everyone tough.”

With a 3-for-5 night, Peter Bourjos, who Mackanin called one of the hottest hitters in baseball currently, raised his season average to .259. After Monday’s game, Bourjos has a seven-game hitting streak (14 for 27, .519) and is hitting .458 (22 for 48) in his last 18 games.

While Bourjos continued his scorching run at the plate, first baseman and Phoenix native Tommy Joseph had a rough night in front of his hometown fans.

Though he now lives in Destin, Florida because his fiancé is in the military, Joseph, who went to Horizon High School in Phoenix, drew cheers each time he stepped to the plate.

Joseph fanned three times and left four runners on base in three at-bats against Ray. In the first inning, Joseph struck out looking with runners on first and second. He struck out swinging to end the third inning. In the fourth, he fanned with runners on second and third and one out, unable to catch up to Ray's mid-90s fastball.

In the seventh, Joseph encountered Arizona righty Jake Barrett. The two had faced each other playing for the Arizona state high school championship in 2009. This time, Barrett fanned Joseph on three pitches, and the third one was a nasty slider down and away.

Joseph flied out to center field in the ninth to cap an 0 for 5 performance. Joseph is 7 for 55 (.127) in his last 14 games, and he has three walks and 35 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances this season. 

The series continues on Tuesday when Jerad Eickhoff (5-9, 3.36 ERA) opposes Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.61 ERA).

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