Doc of old emerges in Phils' win over D'backs
It was as if it was a short trip back in time on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies held off the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-0, on a gem from ace Roy Halladay (see Instant Replay)
Better yet, Saturday’s outing went the way the entire season was supposed to unfold until reality gave the Phillies a cold shower.
Regardless, for a night at least, fans could pretend they took a time machine back 12 or 24 months when Halladay and the Phillies were carving up the National League.
Halladay held the Diamondbacks to just three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings on Saturday, throwing 94 pitches while notching five strikeouts. In 15 starts it was just the second scoreless outing of the season for Halladay with the other one coming on Opening Day in Pittsburgh on April 5.
“When we started the game today he made sure he threw some 92, 93-mph fastballs and he established his fastball early in the game. He mixed in some off-speed stuff,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “His command was good, he got ahead in the count and he got them to chase a lot of changeups and cutters and stuff. He did really good.”
In improving to 5-6, Halladay retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced and allowed just two base runners to get past first base. He threw 15 first-pitch strikes to the 25 hitters he faced and allowed just five three-ball counts. Halladay also threw three or fewer pitches to 12 hitters before sending them back to the dugout, further proof that he was able to establish his fastball and get ahead in the count.
It was almost like the old Roy Halladay, though not quite.
Not quite? Well, yeah because here in August of 2012, Halladay is still on the comeback trail from a shoulder injury that kept him on the disabled list for two months. Though he says he campaigned a bit to go back out to pitch the eighth inning, Manuel decided to stick to the plan of working the ace back into form progressively rather than allowing the heat of the battle to take over. Still, Manuel and Halladay were impressed with how quickly the arm strength is returning after his three previous starts where he still showed signs of rust.
In fact, in his three outings since returning from the disabled list, Halladay allowed 11 runs and 19 hits in 17 innings. The good news is that he got 16 strikeouts with just two walks in those games, but there was the notion that maybe the Phillies and Halladay would be better served if the pitcher ended his season early so that he could rest up for next season.
Bad idea, says Halladay.
“I would do everything that I possibly can to not do that,” Halladay said. “I got a few calls after that, I guess something was written, and I talked to Charlie about it. I don’t think they feel that way. But I want to pitch. I’m here to pitch. I don’t need rest. I need to get out and get reps and pitch and be a part of the team. If I have any say in it at all, it’s not going to happen. I’m not the only one who has a say, but I need to pitch. I want to go out and pitch. For me, there’s no benefit to taking a couple of weeks or whatever it at the end of the season. I want to build on this and finish strong and the only way to do that for me is by pitching.”
Halladay has Manuel in his corner, too.
“I’m old school and old school is throw — build your arm back up,” the manager said.
Of course Manuel is old school when it comes to offense, too, and in that regard he saw his team use the long ball and patience to score some runs. Most notably, catcher Erik Kratz stepped up on a day where All-Star backstop Carlos Ruiz was placed on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis (see story)
. Kratz hit a solo homer to lead off the third inning and drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning to make it 2-0.
The homer off veteran lefty Joe Saunders was Kratz’s fourth in 14 appearances this season. With Ruiz out and Kratz swinging a hot bat, Manuel may end up using the 32-year old rookie as his main catcher down the stretch. Certainly Manuel is impressed with what he’s seen so far, adding that Kratz has improved “100 percent” at the plate since he first showed up in Phillies spring training two years ago.
“He’s strong, he’s durable, he’s hungry to play in the big leagues,” Manuel said. “I like everything about him.”
Interestingly, the fourth-inning rally began with two outs when Ryan Howard singled, John Mayberry Jr. doubled and Dom Brown drew a 10-pitch walk. Five pitches after that, Kratz was jogging down to first with another RBI. The Phillies added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Brown laced a two-out single to score Kevin Frandsen and to give closer Jonathan Papelbon a little more breathing room.
Better yet, the game went just the way the Phillies could have expected with their ace on the mound. However, instead of pushing away from the pack like these types of games did not too long ago, this one only pushed the Phillies to 48-59 and within 12½ games of the Pirates for the second wild-card spot.
There’s the cold splash of reality.E-mail John Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org