He’s good. Once again, Roy Halladay didn’t have his very best stuff, and once again, it mattered not.
We’ve become so accustomed to greatness that outings like this simply fall through the cracks – it’s quite remarkable. Over seven innings, Halladay allowed two runs – both coming in the fourth inning – on six hits. For the 13th time in his career, and the second time this season, he struck out 10 or more batters, settling on the number 10 tonight. The offense gave him plenty of backing as well, in the Phillies 7-3 win.
It appeared as though Halladay battled through some instability with his battery mate, Dane Sardinha. In that fourth inning, he allowed four hits and was not in a good rhythm. Perhaps it was due to unfamiliarity with Sardinha, although the two worked together twice last season.
After shaking off the inning, Halladay went on to retire the final 11 batters he faced, four of them by way of strikeout.
Continuing his dominance over the National League East, Halladay pushed his record to 26-5 in his career against the division, winning an amazing 10 straight over the Nationals and 13 in a row overall. He said it he’s not worried about who the opponent is, you’ll still get 100 percent effort. And of course, in true Roy fashion, he wouldn’t take all the credit.
“I feel like I go out and give it my all regardless who were playing, so I don’t think there’s an added emphasis. Honestly, I think a lot of it goes back to offensively – you know I haven’t pitched a lot of tight games [against the NL East]. We seem to score a lot of runs when I pitch against them.”
Nationals starter John Lannan fell to 0-10 lifetime against the Phillies, a remarkable number if you think about it. What’s worse, 10 straight losses against one team, or an 0-for-35 slump? You be the judge.
Anywho, Lannan was unspectacular to be kind, getting through just two-plus innings (he faced six batters in the third without recording an out), allowing six runs on seven hits. All of the damage was done in a ridiculous third inning in which the Phillies sent 10 to the plate.
In that frame, the big blows came courtesy of Shane Victorino and, once again, Raul Ibanez. Victorino smacked a two-run homer down the line in left field to get the six-run inning underway. Continuing his torrid series, Ibanez then laced a two-run double to right field. Wilson Valdez would follow that up with an RBI single, catapulting the Phils to a 6-0 advantage.
In the fifth inning, Ibanez would go upper tank in right field for his third homer of the year – a 431-foot shot. In the seventh, he’d cap another solid evening with a single to center field.
That’s now eight hits in his last 11 at-bats. The hot streak has helped to raise his batting average 60 points in the last three games. Going into Tuesday’s game with Washington, Ibanez was hitting .154. By the time the series was through, his average was at .214, and the slump was long gone.
Charlie Manuel summed up the turnaround with a simple concept; don’t do too much. Raul agreed.
“I’m trying to do less really…put an easy stroke on the ball and it works out; it usually equates to more,” he said. “But it’s a tough concept to grasp sometimes.”
If less is more for Raul, he did very little against flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. In the seventh, he smoked a liner up the middle that came in as fast as it went through the hole – 100 mph.
Ahead lies a more menacing challenge for Ibanez in his quest to keep streaking. Atlanta comes to town and will line up Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, and a TBA to follow. Not to discount the Nationals, but the 18-15 Braves clearly pose more of a threat.
For Roy Halladay, just give him the ball and let him work, he usually finds his way through, especially against the NL East. And Raul – just take what he’s giving and enjoy it.
-Lost in the hoopla was Jimmy Rollins 350th career stolen base. A model of consistency, Rollins has swiped 83 percent of the bases he’s attempted to steal. (Thanks to Brotherly Glove for that nice stat).
–Placido Polanco has reached base safely in 22 straight games. The elbow? Not a factor at all this season.
-When was the last time the Phillies were 21-9? Try 1979.
Friday: Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee