Vince Velasquez needed just two starts with the Phillies to put himself in elite company.
The 23-year-old right-hander dominated the San Diego Padres on Thursday, striking out 16 and allowing three singles in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win. Only Chris Short (18) and Art Mahaffey (17) ever struck out more batters in a game for the Phillies. Short needed 15 innings to do it in 1965.
Steve Carlton, Curt Schilling and Cliff Lee also had 16 strikeouts in a game with the Phillies. Hall of Famers Robin Roberts and Jim Bunning never did. Neither did Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels.
Velasquez didn’t walk a batter, fanned five of the last six outs and was still throwing 97 mph in the ninth. He joined Max Scherzer, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Dwight Gooden as the only pitchers in the modern era to have thrown a nine-inning, complete-game shutout with at least 16 strikeouts and no walk.
Still, Velasquez barely had the best pitching line of the day.
Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia tossed a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 7-0 win over Milwaukee. Garcia allowed only Domingo Santana’s single with two outs in the sixth. His previous career high was 10 strikeouts.
Houston’s blockbuster deal for former Phillies closer Ken Giles looks like a steal for Philadelphia. Velasquez, one of five pitching prospects Philadelphia acquired for the hard-throwing Giles, hasn’t allowed a run in two starts. Giles, who was excellent finishing games after Jonathan Papelbon was traded to Washington last summer, has struggled in the AL. Giles began the season in a setup role and allowed three homers in his first 4 2/3 innings. He gave up just three homers in 115 2/3 innings with the Phillies.
REVERSE THOSE STREAKS
Atlanta and Minnesota both won their first game Friday night after 0-9 starts and then won again Saturday and Sunday. The Braves got in the win column first, beating Miami 6-3 to avoid matching the worst start in franchise history in 1988. The Twins followed with a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The 2002 Detroit Tigers remain the last team to start a season 0-10 or worse.
There’s a long list of accomplished hitters off to a tough start. Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, Lucas Duda, Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman, Curtis Granderson, Jayson Werth, Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, Todd Frazier, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki and Alex Rodriguez were each batting .205 or lower going into Sunday’s games.
A-Rod snapped an 0-for-19 slump with his 689th career homer on Sunday afternoon against Seattle.
Matt Harvey (0-3, 5.71), Adam Wainwright (0-2, 8.27), Zach Greinke (0-2, 6.75), Julio Teheran (0-2, 6.35), Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16) and Jose Fernandez (0-1, 5.06) enter the third week of the season seeking their first win.
Marlins LF Christian Yelich is often overlooked because Giancarlo Stanton shares an outfield with him. But Yelich is one of the most underrated players in the league. He was batting .400 with a .548 on-base percentage going into Sunday.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Velasquez and Garcia had two of the best lines you’ll see this season. White Sox ace Chris Sale came close, though. Sale tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in Chicago’s 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi
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