Velasquez's solid outing sunk by 6th-inning HR

August 1st, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- When pitches the way he pitched through five innings Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies can dream a little.

If only he did it more often.

But after Velasquez threw five scoreless innings against the Giants, he allowed a leadoff walk and a two-run home run to Buster Posey in the sixth inning in a 5-1 loss. The blast to left field ended Velasquez’s night and reminded everybody about a season-long problem for the Phillies: They continue to give up a ton of home runs. The homers continued in the sixth as left-hander Adam Morgan allowed a solo home run to Pablo Sandoval and a two-run homer to Kevin Pillar.

“Tonight was an indication that we still have a lot of work to do,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.

The Phillies have allowed 181 homers in 107 games this season, putting them on a pace to allow a franchise-record 274. They set the previous franchise mark of 221 homers allowed in 2017. Only the Orioles (207) and Mariners (186) have allowed more homers this season. The Reds allowed a Major League-record 258 homers in 2016.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 56-51. They are now seven games behind the Braves in the National League East, and a half-game out of the second NL Wild Card spot.

The setback came just hours after the Trade Deadline. The Phillies acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Pirates for a player to be named later and international bonus money on Wednesday. They also made other moves in recent weeks, including some to help the rotation (left-handers Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas) and bullpen (right-handers Mike Morin and Blake Parker). But Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said afterward that the team needs its current players to play better the final two months of the season to make the postseason.

“We like the group of guys that we have in here,” Rhys Hoskins said. “We’re confident in this bunch. We’ve just got to get rolling. That’s all it is.”

Velasquez is part of the current group. Nobody has any expectations that he will suddenly transform into Aaron Nola, but the club believes that if he can continue to elevate his four-seam fastball at the top of the strike zone, he can pitch with more success. He has allowed eight hits, two runs and five walks in 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He has struck out 15.

He had the bases loaded and one out in the third inning when Mike Yastrzemski and Posey struck out swinging on elevated fastballs.

“The plan of attack was to challenge guys with the fastball and it was working one through five,” Velasquez said. “I just fell behind in that count and it led to the home run [by Posey]. I made a good pitch. That’s where you have to take your cap off to a good hitter like Posey.”

Then Morgan followed.

“I don’t think Mo had his best stuff,” Kapler said.

It was the 27th time this season the Phillies allowed three or more homers in a game, which ties a franchise record. They also had 27 of those games in 2016.

That team finished 71-91. This team has much more talent and far higher expectations. They still have a chance to win the series with a victory Thursday. Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has allowed only one homer in his last four starts, is on the mound.

Neris to drop appeal

Closer will begin serving his three-game suspension Thursday after hitting Dodgers first baseman David Freese with a pitch earlier this month. He pitched a clean eighth inning with one strikeout Wednesday.