Major League Baseball

Phillies’ Velasquez looks to rebound against Pirates

PIRATES (56-76) AT PHILLIES (68-63)

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez has a clear task ahead of him as he prepares for Wednesday’s start against the Pittsburgh Pirates — rebound.

Velasquez wasted a 7-0 lead in Miami last Friday as he watched the Miami Marlins dust themselves off from an early deficit, then pound their way to a 19-11 win in South Florida.

No doubt eager to get back on the mound, the right-hander described his performance as “embarrassing” as the Marlins rounded the bases at will in the 19-run output, a franchise record at Marlins Park.

“As a pitcher you want that run support,” said Velasquez after allowing seven runs in the third as Miami erased the deficit. “What more do you want with a 7-0 lead, and then you end up giving it up.

“Right now, I feel pretty embarrassed. I’m pretty embarrassed and disappointed and I take full responsibility for the whole outcome of the game.”

Velasquez (5-7, 4.93 ERA) gets his chance at redemption on Wednesday when Philadelphia concludes its three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.

Velasquez will face the Pirates for the first time this season and hopes to improve on his two career starts versus the National League Central club.

The right-hander has pitched to a 7.15 ERA and sports an 0-1 mark against the Bucs, who have produced 14 hits and nine runs in Velasquez’s 11 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh evened the series on Tuesday when Philadelphia first baseman Rhys Hoskins dropped a double-play throw from shortstop Jean Segura that would have ended the ninth inning tied 4-4, but Adam Frazier scored the go-ahead run on the play as the ball rolled away.

The Pirates, who have won four of five, received homers from Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran in the 5-4 win, and closer Felipe Vazquez shut down the Phillies, who lost ground in the National League wild-card chase.

Pittsburgh swept the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, and will turn to rookie Mitch Keller to earn its second straight series win.

The right-handed Keller (1-2, 7.24) will make his seventh career start, and his most recent was the best of the previous six.

Keller took a no-decision in last Friday’s 3-2 home win over the Cincinnati Reds, but he established career-bests in four categories: longest outing (six innings), fewest runs allowed (one) and walks (one), and most strikeouts (nine).

Two keys for Keller were getting ahead in the count and twirling quality offerings to the Reds, whom the Pirates beat with a two-run rally in the ninth inning.

Keller, the Pirates’ No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, fired first-strike pitches to all but four of the 24 hitters he faced. On 19 of Keller’s 91 pitches, Cincinnati flailed away and missed — 10 times on the 28 sliders he tossed.

“That’s just the name of the game. When you get ahead, statistically, the batting averages go way down,” said Keller, 23, who will face Philadelphia for the first time. “That’s how I pitch. That’s how I’ve always pitched.”

–Field Level Media

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