CLEARWATER, Fla. - Rehabbing Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez turned in five strong innings in the start, as the Clearwater Threshers suffered an 8-1 loss to the Bradenton Marauders on Thursday night at Spectrum Field.
Velasquez took the mound for Clearwater in his third rehab appearance, following stints in Lehigh Valley and Reading as he works his way back from a right flexor strain. He worked five innings and permitted only one run on two hits and a walk while striking out five. Velasquez, who was working on a 75-pitch limit, exited after 71 pitches, 44 of which were strikes.
Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez finished 0-for-3 with a walk, playing seven innings in his second game of a rehab assignment as he recovers from an oblique injury.
Velasquez retired each of the first eight batters on Thursday before issuing a two-out walk to Alfredo Reyes in the third. Reyes was caught stealing on a strong throw by Deivi Grullon to end the inning.
The only blemish against the Phillies righty was a leadoff home run by Jordan George, which came on an 0-1 slider in the fifth. Kevin Krause singled on a fastball with two outs in the inning, before Velasquez got Casey Hughston to fly out to left.
Velasquez's velocity hit as high as 96 mph, but command of his secondary offerings is a high priority for the 25-year-old as he makes his way back to Philadelphia.
"I didn't have my changeup command all of the first half," Velasquez says. "When I had my down time in Reading and in Lehigh Valley, working with the pitching coaches there really helped me out a lot with my secondary pitches.
"On that note, going into this game it was pretty much just the curveball and changeup command, trying to set the hitters off and try to protect my fastball."
Velasquez faced the minimum until the fifth, when George's homer put the Marauders ahead, 1-0.
Bradenton opened it up in the sixth facing Edgar Garcia, rallying for four runs (two earned) in the frame. An Alfredo Reyes RBI triple and a Cole Tucker RBI single an inning later made it 7-0.
Taylor Hearn struck out a career-high 10 batters in the start for Bradenton (49-37, 12-7) but left due to an apparent injury with two outs in the fifth inning. He exited following a Carlos Duran infield single, having allowed just three hits total and no walks in 4.2 innings.
The lone run for Clearwater (48-41, 10-9) came in the seventh, after singles by Deivi Grullon and Jose Pujols plus a two-out walk to Hernandez loaded the bases. A wild pitch from reliever Bret Helton permitted Grullon to score.
Trevor Bettencourt took the hill in his Threshers debut in the ninth, allowing a pair of one-out singles and a run-scoring groundout from Reyes.
The rubber game of the three-game series is set for Friday at 6:15 p.m., as Franklyn Kilome (4-4) will toes the rubber opposed by Pedro Vasquez (7-4) on Pitch for Pink Night. The game will be broadcast live on threshersbaseball.com beginning at 6 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.