Mother Nature can't slow Velasquez

Mother Nature can't slow Velasquez

PHILADELPHIA -- It seems only a wet mound could slow Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

He walked Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana on just nine pitches to start the fourth inning in a 2-1 victory over the Indians. He summoned the Phillies' grounds crew to fix the mound, which had become soaked from a steady rain. Finally in better shape and Velasquez feeling more comfortable with his footing, he retired the final nine batters he faced.

"He should have asked them to fix it to start, I guess," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "It was one of those things where he thought he was comfortable and obviously he wasn't. He just wasn't anywhere near the zone. But he settled back in after that and man, he really threw the ball well for us."

Velasquez allowed two hits, four walks and struck out six in six scoreless innings to improve to 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA. He has allowed 18 hits, eight runs (five earned runs), 10 walks and has struck out 39 in 31 1/3 innings. He has not allowed a run in three of his five starts as the Phillies (15-10) have won six consecutive games and have swept consecutive series for the first time since Sept. 7-12, 2012, when they swept the Rockies and Marlins.

Velasquez has been better than advertised as the key piece in the Ken Giles trade with Houston in December.

"I'm neutral," Velasquez said about his performance through five starts. "I'm just going with the flow. I'm not trying to get my hopes up. I'm really not trying to get to a certain amount of wins or have a certain ERA. I told you guys from the beginning that my job is to help the team win. Whatever my job is to do as a pitcher, I've got to do it."

The Phillies' rotation is doing its job. It has a 3.40 ERA, striking out 162 batters in 143 innings. If only the Phillies' offense could keep pace. It benefited from a balk from Indians pitcher Danny Salazar in the third inning, which proved to be the winning run. But overall the offense is averaging just 3.3 runs per game.

"I think we'll be fine," Velasquez said. "We're doing great. Nothing to be worried about. Just keep on enjoying the ride and go from there."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.