After last nights’ total disaster in Atlanta, the Phillies brought their ace, Roy Halladay, to the mound looking for his 4th win of the year. Fans everywhere began praying for a complete game after the Phillies bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the 9th yesterday.
Up to around the 6th inning, Halladay was averaging only 11 pitches an inning, so the potential to go deep into the game was there. He made it to the 9th without allowing a run and started that inning having tossed 101 pitches already.
The first hit ball of the inning nearly went into a hole by first base, but Ryan Howard belly flopped, scooped it up and made a great toss to Halladay for the out. The second ball was shot straight to Howard as well; he gobbled that one up too for the 2nd out. Wilson Valdez collected the 3rd on a slow roller to third; he charged it and made the throw. It was a 2-0 complete game shut-out for Halladay; his record is now 4-0.
There was a lot more spectacular defense in this game from the Phillies as well. In the 2nd inning, Shane Victorino robbed Troy Glaus of a home run by leaping at the centerfield wall and snagging the ball just before it went over. Then in the 5th, Juan Castro snagged a ball that was going up the middle and looked like a base hit. But Castro moved fast, side-armed the throw to first and Ryan Howard did a full split (ouch!) to keep his foot on the bag and catch the ball, getting the out.
In the bottom of the 7th, Halladay got into a bases loaded, 1-out jam, walking his first batter in 25 straight innings. Yunel Escobar hit a grounder up the middle, which Chase Utley dove for and snagged it. Then, from the ground, while struggling to get the ball out of his glove, he flipped the ball to Castro who kicked 2nd base and gunned the ball to first to turn an amazing double play. Halladay pumped his fists in gratitude as he headed for the dugout.
The offense was not exactly jumping with Atlanta’s Tim Hudson on the mound, but they did squeak out a few runs. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both hit doubles in the game and collected one RBI a piece. Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also doubled. Overall, the offense was patient again, saw a lot of pitches and drove Hudson out early after 6 innings.
There was one very concerning moment in the game when Placido Polanco, the Phillies best statistical hitter right now, got nailed in the elbow with a pitch in the 1st inning. It looked like he shook it off, but his next two at-bats were not good and he had issues extending that sore arm. Polanco was finally pulled out of the game in the 7th and Wilson Valdez took over at third.
Early reports indicate a minor left elbow contusion; how serious it really is not known right now. If it turns out to be serious, that will be one more major knock to a team that is already missing Jimmy Rollins plus a boatload of injured pitchers, including Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, JC Romero and maybe JA Happ.
For now, the Phillies will focus on tomorrow night’s game and a series win against the Braves. Jamie Moyer will pitch; game time is 7:10pm.