Vince Velasquez was still wearing his diamond earrings Friday while a member of the Phillies’ athletic training staff stretched the pitcher’s right arm. He expected Aaron Hoback to remind him before the start of a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays to remove his studs once his arm was right.

But then Velasquez found himself on the mound - against one of baseball’s premier lineups - and felt something in his ear.

“And I was like ‘What’s going on here?’ At that point, all I knew was to go out and pitch,” he said.

Velasquez said he was so locked in before yet another strong start that he forgot about his earrings. He struck out seven and allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings, continuing to solidify his place in the starting rotation.

Velasquez now has a 2.84 ERA in five starts since returning from the bullpen. Manager Joe Girardi said Friday night was the best Velasquez has pitched this season.

He did enough to keep the Phillies alive until the lineup scored five times in the seventh. A win on Saturday or Sunday in Dunedin, Fla. -- where the Blue Jays are playing their home games -- would give the Phillies consecutive road-series wins for the first time since July of 2019. It was their third win in four games.

And it started with a pair of earrings.

“He thought I was going to take them out before I went out,” Velasquez said. “I went out there and stretched and played catch and got ready for the game. I had to get ready for the game. That just shows that my mindset was there to pitch. I was ready for this game to start off a new series and get our guys back in the zone and win another series. We’re right in this thing.”

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Velasquez was strong, but settled for a no-decision as the Phillies did not score until the seventh inning. The Blue Jays walked three batters to load the bases before J.T. Realmuto walked with two outs to tie the game at 1.

Rhys Hoskins followed with a three-run double and then scored on a double by Alec Bohm. The Phillies put just two balls in play in the seventh, yet scored five runs.

“Just kind of waited him out,” Hoskins said of his approach against Tim Mayza. “Obviously, I knew that he had to come more to me with the bases loaded there in a pretty big situation. I just didn’t miss the pitch that was more on the plate than the other ones.”

Hoskins and Bohm have both battled slumps this season. Earlier on the road trip, Hoskins was moved to the seventh-spot in the lineup and Bohm was given an extra-day off to reset himself. Hoskins entered Friday hitting .234 with a .751 OPS while Bohm was batting .216 with a .578 OPS.

The Phillies hope their doubles in the seventh can snap their funks.

“These guys are good offensive players,” Girardi said of Hoskins and Bohm. “We’ve dealt with a pandemic and in baseball there seems to be a little bit of an epidemic with averages being down in the game. These guys will make the adjustments and get going.”

The Blue Jays likely would have removed Mayza before he faced Hoskins as he walked both Bryce Harper -- who reached base five times -- and Realmuto. But the rules require pitchers to face three batters, which allowed Hoskins to get a chance at the left-hander from Upper Perkiomen High School.

“That’s my biggest complaint about it, the bases can be loaded before you can bring somebody in,” said Girardi. “I just hope the rule goes away and they figure out a way to get rid of this rule.”

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In March, Velasquez said after pitching in a spring-training game at the same Dunedin, Fla. ballpark that he knew his time with the Phillies was at a crossroads last winter. He would’ve understood, Velasquez said, if they let him go during the offseason. If this was his last opportunity in Philly, Velasquez said he didn’t want to “end on a bad note.”

And there he was Friday night at 8,500-seat TD Ballpark pitching into the sixth inning against one of baseball’s best lineups. He was given an opportunity last month to fill in for Matt Moore when the left-hander was sidelined for having close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Velasquez was expected to start just a game or two. It was an opportunity.

“That’s all I wanted was another opportunity and to just take off and run with it,” Velasquez said. “My mentality going into it was just to pitch. That’s all I could do and to get better. I’m having different areas to work on a regular basis to perfect my craft and what I do on the mound because that’s my job and what I can control. Once I’m locked in, I’m locked in.”

Velasquez pitched good enough that Moore was moved to the bullpen as Velasquez has given the Phillies the production they need from the back of their rotation. It was hard to know in March if Velasquez’ spring-training comments were foretelling of the pitcher he would be in 2021 or just more empty pre-season platitudes.

After five starts, it’s easy to see that Velasquez is not wasting his opportunity.

“Credit to him,” Hoskins said. “It’s never been about the work ethic or the effort with him. He just has had a lot of ups and downs in his time here. He’s always been looking for the consistency part. And that’s usually what it is with us -- the consistency part. But it’s been nice to see the work pay off for him because he works his butt off. Especially after not getting an opportunity right out of spring, it’s really easy for someone to kind of put their head down and hope for an opportunity elsewhere. But he continued to work hard, and he pitched well in the opportunities he got. He was riding the momentum. I’m excited for him. It could really elongate the rotation and make us a lot more dangerous if we’re going to get this type of Vinny most of the time.”

Velasquez did not allow a hit since the second inning before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. jumped on his fastball in the sixth for the game’s first run. He tamed the Jays with a nice balance of his fastball and change-up while mixing in his slider and curveball.

The Phillies know they have three dependable pitchers at the front of their rotation, but quality innings from their fourth and fifth starters could be what finally returns them to the postseason. Velasquez, in five starts, has done that. And he did it Friday with his earrings in.

“I did notice that they were in, but I didn’t notice that it was different,” Hoskins said. “We see him with them in most of the time when he’s not on the field. Shoot, maybe he’s got to ride that. Keep the earrings in.”