We’ve seen games delayed by rain or games paused while umpires review a call, but a game delayed by a home-run trot? That was a first.
The Phillies finally finished their 6-0 win over the Mets last night after they waited for Rhys Hoskins to take his good old time around the bases. It took Hoskins 34.23 seconds to circle the bases, as he seemed to enjoy blasting a moonshot off a pitcher who had thrown a fastball near his head the night before.
In the spirit of tonight’s NFL draft, Hoskins would have completed the 40-yard dash in 11.41 seconds if he ran at his home-run pace. The slowest time ever recorded at the NFL combine: 6.06 seconds in 2011 by Isaiah Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 321-pound offensive lineman. It’s safe to assume that Hoskins’ home-run trot did little for his draft stock.
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Vince Velasquez already had the powerful fastball and the pitches to rack up strikeouts. The only things missing, the Phillies thought, were his composure on the mound and ability to stay focused for an entire start. Through four starts, it seems he might have found them.
Velasquez pitched five scoreless innings Wednesday night, struck out six batters and allowed three hits and three walks. He has a 1.99 ERA, with five earned runs in his first 22 2/3 innings.
“The composure, mentally locking it in and still continuing,” Velasquez said when asked after Wednesday’s start to describe what is giving him the most encouragement. “Just maintaining that strong mentality and just go out there and be dominant. Knowing my stuff is better. The mental factor of getting over that bump and knowing what you're capable of.”
The Phillies did not invest this winter in their starting rotation, and that decision hinged on the performances they would receive from the pitchers at the back of their rotation. Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Velasquez opened the season in those spots. Pivetta is in triple A, and Eflin has been up and down in his last three starts. Velasquez, with a new mindset, has been a revelation.
Of his 97 pitches Wednesday, 71 were fastballs. He used the pitch for four of his strikeouts, all of which were swinging. Velasquez did not shy away from his fastball and simply overpowered the Mets. For the Phillies, it was another good start from a pitcher they bet on this winter.
“His fastball and his ability to throw fastballs by guys is really what stood out,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s what allows him to get out of jams. He did execute some good breaking balls, some sharp breaking balls that were pretty impressive. But I really think it’s the life on his fastball, and he showed that from the beginning of the game.”
It seemed everyone expected a benches-clearing brawl Wednesday night as emotions bubbled between the Phillies and the Mets. Instead, the Phillies found their revenge with an ever-so-slow home-run trot by Rhys Hoskins, Scott Lauber writes. “I enjoyed the moment,” Hoskins said.
It was a bad road trip for the Phillies and it could have been a lot worse, Bob Brookover wrote from New York. The Phillies are still in first place and are coming home to open a four-game series starting tonight against the woeful Marlins. “If we had not won tonight’s game, it would have been a much worse trip and I think we would really be licking our wounds right now. It was really important to get this victory,” Kapler said.
Aaron Nola will be back on the mound tonight, and Lauber wrote about two at-bats from Nola’s last start that could signify that the Phillies ace is OK after some early-season struggles. He used his curveball to strike out the final two batters he faced, as Nola finally began to see horizontal movement on his breaking pitch.
We recorded another episode of the Extra Innings podcast before Wednesday’s series finale in New York. We discuss Jake Arrieta’s comments about Bryce Harper, what to do with Cesar Hernandez, and if Nola is truly back to form.
Tonight: Phillies return home to play the Marlins, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Jerad Eickhoff faces the Marlins, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: Jake Arrieta pitches against Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: The Phillies celebrate the Phanatic’s birthday. 1:05 p.m.
The Phillies have played 24 games this season, and Nick Williams has started none of them.
It was expected that Williams’ playing time would be limited this season, but not starting one of the team’s first 24 games was hard to imagine. He has 21 plate appearances and has played six innings in the field. Roman Quinn was in the minors until last Thursday and already has two more plate appearances.
The Phillies considered starting Williams in left field Tuesday and moving Andrew McCutchen to center, but Kapler ultimately decided to play Quinn. Quinn is injured again, which could open the door this weekend for Williams’ first start of the season.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: What are your thoughts on Roman Quinn? The guy adds a dynamic on the bases, but it seems he’s a liability on a roster that needs players who can contribute throughout the year. — Larry E. via email
Answer: Thanks, Larry. I was high on Quinn when he was rehabbing earlier this month, but it was easy to see in his first week in the majors that he did not look like an everyday player. The Phillies would ideally use him off the bench and he could still have some value there, but he has to stay healthy. And that is already a challenge.