For anyone who thought that Roy Halladay might be slumping, his performance Monday night against the Braves, in the first game of probably the biggest series of the season so far for the Phillies, showed that any imperfection was in the eye of the beholder.
OK, that might be a small dose of hyperbole, but here’s the point: Halladay is just fine, thank you. Doc threw his seventh complete game of the season, holding the potent Braves lineup to five hits and needing to fling his right arm forward a measly 93 times to do so. The only blemish on Halladay’s stat line was a cheap home run to left-center by Chipper Jones that likely was a product of the furnacelike conditions at Citizens Bank Park and almost certainly would not have sailed over the fence at any other stadium in the major leagues.
Also in the category of amazing from the game was the source of the Phillies’ first two runs: the bat of Greg Dobbs, who homered to left-center off Derek Lowe in the sixth inning after the Phils’ offense had managed only four singles in the first five innings. The homer was Dobbs’ second of the season and first since being called up after he was designated for assignment, seemingly eliminating his spot on the Phillies’ big league roster.
But back to the Man of the Night. In two starts against the Braves this season, Halladay has pitched a complete game and allowed five hits both times. Take away Jones’ cheapie, and he’d have two shutouts. The only major league TEAM with more CGs than Doc’s seven is the Mariners, who have eight (mostly thanks to a relative unknown; I think his name is Lee).
The Phillies couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the series (OK, more offense would have been nice). Now it’s up to Cole Hamels to keep it going, and no offense to Hamels, but the Phillies are probably not going to be able to scrape by with three runs in the heat of the night Tuesday.