If, by chance, the Phillies were predisposed to thinking they would manhandle the Marlins 19 times this season by merely showing up for work, the last two games should serve to disabuse them of that notion.
Never mind that the Phillies won here on Sunday, 3-1 in 14 innings, and claimed two of the three games in South Florida. Their high-scoring offense was held down for most of the series, including a nine-inning span of the finale by a young Marlins pitching staff that features few names you would recognize but perfectly good stuff.
Jean Segura picked a perfect time, then, to slug his first Phillies home run. He broke up a bullpen staredown in which six relievers from each team didn't allow a run. After Andrew McCutchen launched a one-out triple against Wei-Yin Chen, Segura went deep to left-center field to snap a 1-1 tie.
Jose Alvarez closed out the victory for the Phillies, who got a total of eight scoreless innings from seven relievers, as Pat Neshek, Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, David Robertson, Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano passed the bullpen baton before him. At one point, Phillies relievers struck out nine consecutive batters.
The Phillies have won nine of their first 14 games and return home Monday night to face the Mets in a three-game series.
Vince Velasquez started the game and was both efficient and effective, the former often serving as the primary cause when he's able to achieve the latter.
After his first start of the season, last Monday night against the Nationals, Velasquez said he made a concerted effort in spring training to get quicker outs. Rather than always trying to overpower hitters and go for strikeouts, he's more satisfied with merely inducing weak contact earlier in the count and letting the defense catch the ball.
Through three innings against the Marlins, Velasquez faced the minimum nine batters, struck out only one, but threw just 32 pitches. Of the 18 outs that he recorded, only four were strikeouts. He got five groundouts, including one double play, and four flyouts.
Velasquez didn't give up a hit until Brian Anderson's game-tying solo home run with two outs in the sixth inning. But the Phillies gave him little support, struggling to reach base against Marlins starter Jose Urena and failing to deliver a big hit when they did.
The Phillies left a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings. They wasted Jean Segura's one-out single in the first, Scott Kingery's two-out double in the second, and a leadoff single by Velasquez in the third.
Cesar Hernandez finally broke through in the fourth, just as manager Gabe Kapler suspected he might.
Although Kapler gave Kingery a rare start, he opted to keep Hernandez in the lineup and give third baseman Maikel Franco a breather. The reason: Kapler cited Hernandez's track record against Urena (7-for-26, one triple, two homers entering the game) and the belief that his swing was better suited than Franco's to handle Urena's sinker.
On cue, Hernandez hit a two-strike pitch, albeit a slider, out to right field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Beyond that, though, scoring opportunities were scarce for the Phillies. Bryce Harper forced the issue in the sixth inning. After lining a one-out double, he tried to score from second base on Rhys Hoskins' single to left field. Third-base coach Dusty Wathan waved Harper home, but the slightest hesitation around third base proved costly. Shortstop J.T. Riddle's relay of left fielder Curtis Granderson's throw was on time for catcher Chad Wallach to apply the tag.