By: Jon Fogg
The Phillies are anchored by a core group of players who have been together for their playoff runs, but on Opening Day it was a pair of newcomers who drove the Phillies to an easy 11-1 victory over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Roy Halladay found a groove after early struggles, befuddling the Nationals to the tune of nine strikeouts in seven innings, and Placido Polanco knocked in a career-high six runs, including a grand slam.
The Phillies’ most high-profile acquisitions of the offseason made their debut in an atmosphere as close to Citizens Bank Park as you can find outside of Pattison Avenue and Darien Street. Thousands of Phillies fans overran Southeast Washington, D.C., for the opener, and “Let’s go Phillies” chants boomed throughout the stadium even before President Barack Obama fired in the first pitch.
But forget Obama. The true man of the hour, Halladay, didn’t disappoint. In addition to throwing only 70 pitches over his final six innings, he also earned his second career RBI with a swinging-bunt single in the fourth. The only blip came in the first inning, when Nyjer Morgan led off with a single and Ryan Zimmerman drove him in with a double to the fence in right center.
After a leadoff walk by Chase Utley in the fourth, Ryan Howard got the offense churning by pounding a first-pitch curveball from John Lannan into the upper deck in right field. Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the inning, handing Halladay a 5-1 lead. “Doc” was well settled in by that point, and the Phillies were well on their way to their first Opening Day victory since 2005.