Normally when a manager walks or waddles out to the mound he will usually make a gesture, either his left or right arm, to the bullpen. This usually means the guy on the mound is done and reinforcements are coming in.
All bets are off with Roy Halladay is on the mound. Charlie Manuel has made the trip to the mound before. Not often does he not wait for a guy to come through the outfield gate and take the ball out of his big country hand. Like I said, with Halladay all bets are off.
Manuel made his trip to the mound in the ninth inning tonight. Halladay had just lost his bid for his 20th career shutout and was looking dangerously close to losing out on his 59th career complete game. Now this is just speculation but my guess on how the conversation on the hill went as such; Charlie “Hey there guy, getting a little sticky out here.” Doc “Yeah it’s cool, I got this.” Charlie “Ok I figured, I needed a walk. My legs were falling asleep down there.”
Ok, probably not but Manuel had to check. Halladay had been cruising through eight innings only allowing two hits and striking out six Nationals. As every baseball fan knows, the ninth inning is a beast all to itself.
Rick Ankiel led off the inning with a double, the first extra base hit for Washington in the game. Former Phillie Jayson Werth singled moving Ankiel over to third. Before that at bat, Werth had been 0-3 with two strikeouts against his former ace. Halladay struck out Adam LaRoche before Lance Nix singled home Ankiel.
Werth scored on an infield single by Danny Espinosa. Enter Matt Stairs; one of the games most prolific pinch hitters. One time he was quote to say “Yeah, every time I swing I try to hit a home run.” Maybe Stairs forgot in order to hit one you actually have to swing the bat. He looked at three consecutive strikes that you can’t even take inside the cage. Two outs.
Ivan Rodriguez did foul one pitch off but in the end suffered the same fate as Stairs; a backwards K. Halladay’s final line won’t tell the whole story – 9 IP, 123 pitches, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K. The feeling of uncertainty in the ninth inning is not something Philly fans are used to with Roy number one on the mound. A collective sigh was rightfully heard when the final strike was called. Even Chooch looked a little relieved.
It sounds weird to say that Roy Halladay and the Phillies held on to beat the Nationals 3-2. Tonight, that is what happened. And that’s baseball. And that was Halladay’s 59th career complete game which is highest among active pitchers.
The Phillies sprinkled six hits on the game, two from Placido Polanco, and looked for any scoring opportunity they could find. Ryan Howard collected his league leading RBI (13) when he was plunked by Nationals starter John Lannan with the bases loaded.
The Phillies had their leadoff guy on base for four of the first five innings but could not get much going. They grounded into three double plays in the first six innings and Shane Victorino was left out to dry in between second and third base in the first inning. Luckily no one was covering and he was able to sneak back without the Nats recording an out.
This whole game tonight just seemed rusty. A very sloppy affair behind Lannan and the Phillies just could not move runners. Yes a win is a win, but a little breathing room would have been nice. Even for Halladay. Cliff Lee will take the hill tomorrow as ‘the boys’ look to win their fourth straight series to open the season.