On a rain-soaked night, the Phillies lost an ugly one to the Braves, 9-2, in a game that left them with more questions than answers about the once vaunted Roy Halladay.
WHAT’S UP, DOC?
-The wet conditions tonight didn’t make for an ideal stage to evaluate Halladay (remember the wet mound from a couple weeks ago?), but evaluate we must. So what are the returns after his first start of 2013? Not great. Somebody file a missing persons report, because the Roy Halladay of lore is still nowhere to be found.
-Halladay’s first inning got off to a great start. He recorded a strikeout using a nasty splitter on an 0-2 count. But it went all downhill from there. Jason Heyward reached on a broken bat single to right and Justin Upton followed with a two-run dinger. The control issues Halladay exhibited during the Spring resurfaced, as he followed up Upton’s home run by issuing a walk to Freddie Freeman. It’d be the first of two walks in the inning. Halladay would allow another run before finally retiring the side. The 40-pitch inning certainly didn’t do anything to help quell the uneasiness Phillies fans are feeling about the righthander. However, Halladay would improve from there. Slightly.
-He got through the second using 16 pitches and cruised through the third. Remarkably, his first eight outs were recorded by strikeout. He ran into some more trouble in the fourth, allowing another home run and a single before getting pulled with one out. His final line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, x ER, 3 BB, 9 K. The strikeouts were encouraging. The three walks and four runs were not. His velocity on his fastball was between 88-92 MPH.
-It’s notable that Halladay struggled in the first inning, as it was notoriously problematic for him last season (He had a 6.48 ERA in the first in 2012, his highest in any inning). If you take that away, he actually looked pretty good. Problem is, you can’t take that away. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about exactly what this team will get from Doc this season. He’s struggled, but his main problem area–fastball command–is something that can seemingly be fixed. Whether he is able to do that or not remains to be seen. So far, he has not adjusted.
THE OFFENSE TAKES A NIGHT OFF
-A common theme for this team through two is men left on base (Big surprise there!). They left eight men on base on Monday. Tonight, they’d leave nine on base. Approach-wise, they were OK. They worked decent counts and chased Paul Maholm from the game after 5.2 innings. They had nine hits, but could not find the big one. Erik Kratz killed rallies with a double play in the second, a strike out with two on and one out in the fourth, and again with two on and two outs in the sixth. Throughout the order, the team struggled to string hits together. Collectively, they went (1-for-11) with RISP. It didn’t help that they only had two extra base hits on the night.
-After going 3-for-5 with three RBI on Monday, Chase Utley again provided an offensive jolt, driving in the lone two runs with a double in the seventh. It was his only hit of the night, but Utley is delivering so far. Ben Revere was also a bright spot, scoring a run for the second straight game, despite only reaching base once.
MIDDLE RELIEF LIMITS THE DAMAGE
-Following Halladay, Raul Valdes promptly walked two runners to load the bases for Freeman, who cleared them with a double to make it 7-0. It was not a great start for the Phillies lefthander, who pitched so well last season. The leak would stop from there.
–Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless sixth and Mike Adams made his Phillies debut, striking out two in a very impressive seventh inning. Jonathan Papelbon would allow a meaningless two-run home run in the eighth to make it 9-2. You’ll recall he struggled in non-save situations last year.
-The Phillies fall to 0-2. As Corey Seidman tweeted earlier tonight, seven of the 16 teams to start 0-2 the last two years made the playoffs and two won the World Series. In both 2008 and 2009, the Phillies started 0-2. It’s not quite time to panic yet.
-In local minor league news, former Phillies prospect Chris Duffy, who was cut by the organization last month during Spring Training, has signed with the Camden Riversharks, as first reported by Phillies Nation’s Jay Floyd.