Phillies, starter Vince Velasquez look to take series from Marlins

MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies will look for a series victory against the visiting Miami Marlins when they hand the ball to fifth starter Vince Velasquez on Thursday.

The righty Velasquez, who has struggled for long stretches during his time with the Phillies, has allowed just one run in each of his past three starts. In other words, he’s beginning to find some much-needed consistency.

“I talked to (pitching coach) Caleb Cotham (recently) and I just told him I have a simple direction of where I’m going,” Velasquez said. “It’s just a matter of preparation. You’re only as good as you prepare. And I think the consistency factor has shown because of the work I’m doing on a daily basis. I just have a sense of direction.”

Velasquez is 1-0 with a 3.68 earned run average in eight games, five starts. In Velasquez’s career against the Marlins, he’s 4-4 with a 4.88 ERA in 17 starts.

Lately, Velasquez has been solid and kept the Phillies in the game.

“Credit to him. It’s never been about the effort or work ethic with him,” teammate Rhys Hoskins said of Velasquez. “He’s just had a lot of ups and downs in his time here. It’s been nice to see the work pay off for him, especially after not getting an opportunity right out of spring.”

Catcher J.T. Realmuto missed his third straight game Wednesday with a contusion at the base of his left hand. Manager Joe Girardi said that it’s possible Realmuto could play Thursday.

“It feels a lot better today than it did in Dunedin (against the Toronto Blue Jays), which is a good sign, so we should be on the right track,” Realmuto said.

The Marlins will counter with right-hander Sandy Alcantara (1-3, 4.06), who will be looking to rebound from the shortest start of his career.

In Alcantara’s most recent start on the road, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he allowed seven hits and eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. As a result, his ERA ballooned from 2.72 to 4.06.

“I don’t know what happened,” Alcantara said. “I just came out with my same mentality when I was in the first inning, and everything changed too quick. I don’t know what I was doing, but I think they got my pitches. I’ve got to keep working hard and keep watching the video and see what I have to do to get better.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly is used to witnessing consistent outings from Alcantara. Until the last start.

“There’s games when you look at it and say that wasn’t the best Sandy,” Mattingly said. “You always say his stuff’s good, but days that he seems a little more tentative, one thing or another, he ends up going six and giving up one or two (runs). And so, definitely surprising what happened to him.”

In Alcantara’s career against the Phillies, he’s 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in six starts.

The Marlins had 11 hits on Wednesday, including a 1-for-5 performance by Jazz Chisholm. After missing 16 games with a strained hamstring, Chisholm has five hits in his past three games.

Win or lose, Chisholm is the spark at the top of the lineup that the Marlins have been missing.

“We’re never out of the game,” Chisholm said. “We know how to play this game. We know that it’s possible to always come back, no matter the amount of outs left in the game, the amount of innings left in the game, the amount of time left in the game. It doesn’t matter that we can always come back at any time.”

–Field Level Media

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