Velasquez sticks to his strengths vs. Rockies

Young righty fans seven, allows homer in only blemish

Velasquez sticks to his strengths vs. Rockies

PHILADELPHIA -- Is one start enough to say Vince Velasquez took a step forward Thursday at Citizens Bank Park?

It might be, if the 24-year-old continues to pitch to his strengths. Velasquez allowed eight hits, one run and one walk in five innings in a 2-1 victory in 11 innings over the Rockies. He struck out seven. He got into some trouble, but he avoided the breakdowns that caused him Saturday in Pittsburgh to say he felt "clueless" on the mound and that he is "just running around like a chicken without a head."

"Sticking to my strengths," Velasquez said.

Velasquez's strength is a swing-and-miss four-seam fastball located up in the strike zone. He struck out every Rockies batter with the fastball located in the upper-half of the zone or up and out of the zone.

"I had a plan to attack the guys," Velasquez said. "You know, prior starts, changing game plans causes damage. If you shy away from that, things pretty much go away from you. That's where you get hurt. Today's mentality didn't change at all. I attacked guys with high fastballs in 0-2 counts."

Velasquez threw an 0-2 fastball over the plate in the fourth inning to Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who smacked the pitch to right field for a solo home run to hand the Rockies a 1-0 lead.

Velasquez said he did not elevate the pitch enough.

"It was pretty much a pitch I try to locate high," he said. "Anything higher he probably would have swung and missed or fouled it off."

It was the sixth 0-2 home run the Phillies have allowed this season. It was the 25th two-strike homer they have allowed.

Both marks are the most in baseball.

Velasquez threw 94 pitches. He could have pitched one more inning, but Phillies manager Pete Mackanin wanted to ensure Velasquez left the game on a positive note. They believe Velasquez can be a successful starting pitcher in the big leagues. They want to make sure he keeps his confidence up.

"He looked like he took a step forward," Mackanin said. "He showed improvement, and we wanted to get his psyche in the right spot."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.