For this week’s column, I wrote about The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the first three weeks of Phillies baseball to this point of the season. Apparently the two players who were featured as “The Ugly” read the article (kidding) and stuffed my words right back into my mouth (not kidding).
Spoiler alert: the two players were Maikel Franco, whose batting average was .171 before tonight, and Vincent Velasquez, whose 15 innings pitched in 3 starts were overshadowed only by his 7.20 ERA. As is the trend immediately after a media member calls out a player for a streak of poor performances, Franco and Velasquez each turned in their best performances of the season to this point.
Vince was shaky to start the game, allowing a run in the first inning after a triple by Dee Gordon to lead off. His 4th start of the season got worse before it got better, as Martin Prado crushed a ball to the left-center field stands in the top of the 3rd inning to put the Marlins ahead 2-0. However, in the bottom of the inning, Franco made his presence known by giving the home team a lead that they would never relinquish.
Singles from Velasquez, Aaron Altherr, and Odubel Herrera loaded the bases for the cleanup hitter, who represented this title well, and smacked a home run over the center field wall to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead while driving in his 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th RBIs of the season. It was Franco’s second grand slam of the season, and the 3rd of his career.
Freddy Galvis contributed the Phillies’ second long ball of the night when he cleared the left field wall to extend the lead to 3 runs. It was his 3rd home run of the season, but only the 1st from the right side of the plate.
Vincent Velasquez, who threw a season-high 70% of his pitches for strikes, enjoyed his longest outing of the year, lasting 6 1/3 innings after allowing a run in the top of the 7th. After a rough first three innings, he seemed to settle into a rhythm, which is all Pete Mackanin would have wanted to see out of a player who has struggled as much as VV. It was a very promising night for the 25-year-old hard-throwing righty.
After Velasquez allowed a run to cross and the lead was shrunken to 2, Joely Rodriguez entered the game and shut down any hope for a comeback by the Fish.
The Phillies got on the board once again in the bottom of the 8th inning, when Michael Saunders joined the homer party in a flamboyant fashion–his two-run bomb hit the second deck in right field. It was Saunders’s first home run as a Phillie, and when it came off the bat, everybody in the stadium knew that it was long gone. He also scored Tommy Joseph, who was on first base after hitting a single during the previous at-bat. Joseph was listed as “The Bad” in the aforementioned article. Go figure, right?
Miami scored a run in the 9th inning, but the only effect that the score had was on Hector Neris’s ERA. The Phillies won the game by a final score of 7-4 en route to their 5th straight victory. Philadelphia is now over .500 for the first time since their victory on Opening Day, and the Phightins will look to make it 6 in a row in a day game on Thursday–the logic being to not interfere with the NFL Draft–before heading off to the west coast for a weekend set against the Dodgers.
Photo by Charlie Carroll (via Flickr)