Roy Halladay must have left his cape at the dry cleaners today – you know the one with the big “R” on it – because it was not his afternoon. Boston, a familiar foe from his decade in the AL East, roughed up Halladay, making him look rather human in their 8-3 drubbing of the Phillies.
In his 5 2/3 innings, Doc allowed eight hits and six earned runs, while walking two and striking out just one batter. The last time Halladay struck out one batter or fewer in a game where he pitched at least five innings was June 3, 2006 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yes, they were still Devil Rays.
Many will point to Halladay’s exorbitant pitch count in his last appearance against the Pirates (132 on Tuesday) as the reason for his struggles. After the game when asked if overuse had anything to do with today’s less-than-stellar outing, Charlie Manuel said, “Not a damn thing.” Roy himself said the 372 pitches over his last three starts was not a reason for the Red Sox beatdown. “I just didn’t make good pitches, that was the bottom line,” said the Phillies ace. ”It’s got nothing to do with anything before today.” What was the factor? How about a Red Sox team that has owned him throughout his illustrious career.
Kevin Youkilis torched Doc for a triple and his ninth home run of the year. Torture is the word that comes to mind when looking at the Youkilis/Halladay matchup over the years. The Red Sox infielder is now 21-for-56 against the former Blue Jay. Old pal J.D. Drew went 2-for-4 today, with both hits coming against the Phils starter. Lifetime, Drew is now 11-for-32 in their head-to-head battles.
So before you point to those 132 pitches against Pittsburgh, realize that pitchers have a bad day once in a while. And for Roy Halladay, many of those during his career have been brought on by this Boston club. Even during his Cy Young-winning season of 2003, the Red Sox blasted Halladay in three of his six starts that year. He allowed five, six, and seven earned in those appearances, (dis)respectively.
Chalk it up as one of those rough performances that will make Doc a better pitcher in the long run. Halladay has said himself that a starter is assured five good performances and five bad performances in a given season; it’s what you do with the other 25 that will determine how good you are. Over the first two months of 2010, Halladay has had two “bad” starts. He’s got three left.
On the other side, Tim Wakefield sprinkled some magic dust on his patented knuckleball, deftly manuevering through the Phillies lineup for eight innings. He threw just 102 pitches and was stopped short of his first complete game shutout since July 27, 1997, saying he ran out of gas. The 43-year-old Wakefield carved through a Phillies lineup that less than 24 hours prior had been sapped by the mystery that is Dasiuke Matsuzaka.
The Phillies touched home plate three times in the ninth as Raul Ibanez doubled home Jayson Werth, and Ross Gload added a pinch-hit two-run home run. Sadly, the crooked-run inning came far too late as Wakefield’s masterful performance was more than enough to give him his first victory of the season.
For the three-game weekend set, the Phillies managed just eight total runs, an injury to their starting shortstop, 19 men left on base, and two ugly losses. During this latest seven-game homestand, the Phils finished 3-4, but their offense produced very little. The NL Leader in runs scored could only muster 15 runs following a 12-run outburst to begin the week against Pittsburgh. In three of those, they score one run or less. For such a prolific offense, the bats were abnormally silent.
But as Charlie said in his postgame press conference over and again, “it’s part of the game.” Indeed it is, however, as the Phils embark on a nine-game road swing to face three divisional opponents, they must wake up before the rest of the East catches up.
Here’s my postgame video with Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times on the Halladay pitch count and the offense: