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Velasquez limits damage in abbreviated start

Rookie pitcher throws 93 pitches in 3 1/3 innings

SEATTLE -- Vincent Velasquez threw so many pitches in the first inning of Sunday's 6-2 win over the Mariners, and was in so much trouble, manager A.J. Hinch made a call to the bullpen. Velasquez weaved his way through the inning by throwing 43 pitches while allowing one run, but he got the big out when he needed it.

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The rookie right-hander, who was making his third career big league start for the Astros, struck out Brad Miller with the bases loaded to end the first and keep the Mariners from taking what could have been a substantial lead. He only lasted 3 1/3 innings, throwing 93 pitches.

"I could have gone later on in the game, but walks kills you," Velasquez said. "I did get out of it and a lot of damage could have been done more, and I prevented it."

Velasquez, who has yet to pitch into the sixth inning in any of his three starts, talked about having a lack of focus to start the game and being amped up. The bottom line is trying to find a way to be consistent.

"He kept us in the game to where they could have really opened it up," Hinch said. "If I got to go to the bullpen in the first or second inning, we're in a lot more trouble than we ended up being. Obviously, they put a lot of good at-bats against him. They made him throw, and he was at 20 pitches after two hitters. Him getting through that and getting even as deep as he did was a good effort."

Velasquez had multiple deep counts and was elevating his pitches, which led to a lot of foul balls.

"He just couldn't end at-bats." Hinch said. "The ball in play that was just hard enough where they foul it off and don't put it in play, and he elevated a little bit too much. Clearly a lot of walks and deep count at-bats. But it's just another part of the learning curve. He's going to learn to be more efficient and find a way to end at-bats favorably for him rather than put extra base runners on the base."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Houston Astros, Vincent Velasquez