Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Back in DC, Vazquez flashes dominance

Former Nats reliever strikes out 2 in All-Star debut
MLB.com

Felipe Vazquez is no stranger to pitching in Nationals Park. The left-hander made his Major League debut with the Nationals in 2015 and made 96 appearances over nearly two seasons with the club before being traded to the Pirates in a deal for Mark Melancon in July '16.

One thing he's not familiar with, however, is pitching in the ballpark as a Major League All-Star. In fact, Vazquez made his first career appearance in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday, entering the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at the start of the seventh inning, with the National League trailing the American League, 2-1.

View Full Game Coverage

Felipe Vazquez is no stranger to pitching in Nationals Park. The left-hander made his Major League debut with the Nationals in 2015 and made 96 appearances over nearly two seasons with the club before being traded to the Pirates in a deal for Mark Melancon in July '16.

One thing he's not familiar with, however, is pitching in the ballpark as a Major League All-Star. In fact, Vazquez made his first career appearance in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday, entering the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at the start of the seventh inning, with the National League trailing the American League, 2-1.

View Full Game Coverage

He pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and the National League ultimately fell to the American League, 8-6, in 10 innings. After the game, the 27-year-old reliever left without talking to reporters.

Vazquez made a strong case to be an All-Star in 2017, but it didn't happen for him. Now in his first full season serving in the closer role with the Pirates, he went into the break with a 3.05 ERA, 1.282 WHIP and 23 saves. On Monday, Vazquez shrugged off most questions about why he's improved, saying the answer was "probably not worrying about it too much." 

While he's been less consistent through the first half of the season than he was a year ago, Vazquez has proven over the past month that he's absolutely worthy of the All-Star nod. The lefty has not allowed an earned run since June 13, heading into the break having recorded 27 strikeouts while walking two over 14 2/3 scoreless innings in his past 15 appearances.

He continued to showcase his dominance early on Tuesday, working the count full against Mitch Moreland before placing a four-seamer just inside the zone for a called strike three for the first out of the inning.

The southpaw then retired Yan Gomes on just one pitch as he induced a groundout with a low fastball. After serving up a bloop single to Michael Brantley and issuing a six-pitch walk to Jed Lowrie, Vazquez ran a slider away from Mitch Haniger on a 2-2 count to freeze him for a called strike three and strand a pair of runners.

Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Felipe Vazquez