PHILADELPHIA -- This is Vince Velasquez, isn't it?Six days after Velasquez allowed a career-high 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Brewers, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Thursday afternoon in a 9-3 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, giving the Phillies their first series
PHILADELPHIA -- This is Vince Velasquez, isn't it?
Six days after Velasquez allowed a career-high 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Brewers, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Thursday afternoon in a 9-3 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, giving the Phillies their first series victory since May 21-23. Velasquez dazzled at times, showing why the Phils still believe that he not only can be a mainstay in their rotation, but a potentially dominant one, too.
If Velasquez can only keep things together.
"There is a village of people looking to help him get there," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
Velasquez pitched confidently and aggressively. He maintained his poise and he trusted Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp, who stuck to the game plan of attacking the Rockies inside.
"I thought that was as confident as I've ever seen him," Kapler said about Velasquez. "But most notably for me was how comfortable he looked in his own skin today. It was a breath of fresh air, and I think when things aren't going that smoothly for him, if he can maintain that composure, maintain that easiness and maintain that confidence, that's when he's going to reach his true potential."
Velasquez explained why he looked and felt like a different man.
"Just pretty much focusing on a new outcome," Velasquez said. "After the other day, I just tried to have a solid bounce-back."
Velasquez retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning before he walked Carlos Gonzalez. Trevor Story followed with a double down the left-field line to score Gonzalez to end the no-hit bid and the shutout bid, as well as Velasquez's day. He had thrown 105 pitches at that point, so it surprised no one that Kapler summoned Tommy Hunter from the bullpen.
"At this point, there's no need to really expand my pitch count," Velasquez said.
"The fastball at the top of the zone gave us some trouble," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He mixed in a couple breaking balls as the game went on that seemed to get a little sharper. More than anything, the fastball had some life to it, and we chased at the top of the zone probably a little bit too much."
Rhys Hoskins homered in the first, Nick Williams homered in the second and Williams doubled to score another run in the fifth to hand Velasquez a 3-0 lead. Both of Velasquez's runners scored in the seventh, but the Phillies never lost the lead. In fact, the offense added to it. Philadelphia had 13 hits -- with Hoskins notching his first three-hit game of the season -- the first time the club has had 10 or more hits in a game since May 29.
"Rhys kind of set the tone, and that motivated me," Velasquez said.
Velasquez allowed two runs on one hit and two walks, and he struck out six in 6 2/3 innings. He got 13 swings and misses, including six on strikeouts. Velasquez improved to 5-7 with a 4.74 ERA. Remove that ugly start against the Brewers and he has a 3.71 ERA in 13 starts.
"You've got to learn from the last outing and not let it carry over," Velasquez said. "Just keep moving forward and just make your adjustments then."
Kapler acknowledged the challenge it can be to keep Velasquez even-keeled from start to start, and pitch to pitch.
"The reason I think it's a challenge is because it's not natural," Kapler said. "So you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone and be willing to apply some trial and error -- different techniques to feel confident and comfortable. I think he's doing just that."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Phillies scored four insurance runs in the seventh inning to take a 7-2 lead. They had the bases loaded with one out, when Knapp scored on a passed ball. Hoskins doubled to left-center field to score Scott Kingery, Odubel Herrera's single to right-center to score J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana's single to right scored Hoskins.
"Yeah, look, we know that it's in there," Hoskins said. "We know we can do that every time out. But I think it's nice to be reminded every once in a while and have a game like that. I think guys' confidence in here is starting to grow a lot, especially after the last couple weeks. I think there's exciting stuff to come."
It was the fourth time this season a Phillies pitcher had a no-hitter through five innings. Elias Sports Bureau said it is the most times Philadelphia starters have done that since 1982, when it also happened four times. The Phils had three starts like that total from 2013-17.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williams' solo homer left his bat at 110.7 mph, making it the second hardest homer of his career. He hit one 111.9 mph on April 9 against the Reds.
HE SAID IT
"I think we've kind of built a relationship where Vince kind of gives me the reins to go out and think for him sometimes. The stuff is electric, so when he can command the fastball at the top of the zone, it opens up so much for him." -- Knapp, on Velasquez
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies challenged a pickoff play in the top of the second inning, when Velasquez threw to Santana, who appeared to tag Gerardo Parra before he touched the bag. First-base umpire James Hoye called Parra safe, but the replay official definitively determined that Santana tagged Parra before touched the base. The call was overturned for the second out of the inning.
Phillies right-hander Jacob Arrieta (5-4, 2.97 ERA) faces Brewers left-hander Brent Suter (6-4, 4.61 ERA) on Friday night at 8:10 ET in the first game of a three-game series at Miller Park. Arrieta has allowed nine earned runs in 11 1/3 innings in his past two starts, including a loss last weekend against the Milwaukee at Citizens Bank Park.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.