PHOENIX — It was bound to happen eventually. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, a Phillies starting pitcher was going to throw a dud.
Vince Velasquez just so happened to be the one. Nearly two months after the last time he got roughed up — eight games after a Phillies starter last allowed more than three runs in a game — Velasquez got knocked out in the fourth inning of a 6-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday in a matinee series finale at Chase Field.
Velasquez didn’t have his best stuff, to be sure. He gave up four runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batter, and lacked the usual sizzle on his fastball. Velasquez’s heater averaged 93 mph, according to Statcast, a tick below his season average of 94.1 mph.
But for a third consecutive game, the Phillies’ offense dried up in the desert. Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin held them to four hits in 7 1/3 innings. Roman Quinn’s pinch-hit double in the fifth inning marked their only extra-base hit.
After scoring 23 runs in a four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins at home last week, the Phillies produced only seven runs in 32 innings against the Diamondbacks. And four of those runs came in the seventh inning Tuesday night after starter Nick Pivetta had exited with a cuticle-chomping, 1-0 lead.
It’s a tough way to play when you constantly leave your starting pitcher without room for error.
As a result, the Phillies dropped two of three games against the Diamondbacks, a playoff contender in the National League West. Muted bats aside, though, they might have won the series if they hadn’t blown a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the series-opener Monday night and lost in 14 innings before coming back to beat Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke in the middle game.
For two months, Velasquez has been among the best starters in baseball. He entered with a 2.14 ERA since June 14, including a 1.39 mark in his last six starts. And beyond the numbers, he’s had the look and the stuff of an emerging ace.
Suffice to say, he wasn’t at his sharpest.
Velasquez flirted with trouble early, overcoming a two-out single in the first inning and back-to-back two-out walks in front of Corbin in the second. But the Diamondbacks finally got to him for three runs in the third.
It all began with Jon Jay slicing a double inside the left-field line and taking third base after Rhys Hoskins misplayed the ball. Velasquez hit Paul Goldschmidt in the upper arm with a two-strike fastball, then gave up David Peralta’s two-run triple into the right-field corner. Two batters later, Peralta scored on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Escobar.
The Diamondbacks continued to hit the ball hard in the fourth inning, although Velasquez almost avoided additional damage. He yielded back-to-back singles to Ketel Marte and Alex Avila but got Corbin to ground into a double play. Jay didn’t let Velasquez off the hook, though, scorching an RBI double to right field for a 4-0 lead.
It marked the first time a Phillies starting pitcher had given up more than three runs in a game since Zach Eflin allowed four against the Cincinnati Reds on July 29.