Sunday was certainly much different than Saturday. And Friday. And Thursday. And Wednesday.
After scoring a total of seven runs in the previous four games, the offense exploded for seven on Sunday in the 7-3 victory over the Pirates. Roy Halladay was finally the benefactor of those runs; he went seven innings, giving up just two first inning runs. Halladay struck out six and retired 11 straight at one point.
Sunday’s start for the Doc was worlds different than his last. In Washington on Monday, Halladay allowed three home runs and labored through six innings. In Pittsburgh he cruised, for the most part, and even got in on the fun offensively.
He went 1-for-3 and scored an important run in the sixth inning on a nice slide past catcher Chris Snyder. For once, Halladay wasn’t alone. The team as a whole managed 14 hits, with everyone chipping in.
Ryan Howard crushed a ball nearly 410 feet to dead center field with the bases loaded, but it stayed in the yard. It was good enough for a sac fly. It was an excellent at-bat for Howard as he fouled off pitch after pitch before sending home Shane Victorino.
Chase Utley raised his average nearly 40 points, going 4-for-5 on the day. He also flashed the leather in the bottom of the seventh inning, saving a run with a diving catch with two outs. This could be the breakout we’ve been waiting for.
There was a wild moment in the fourth inning that could have broken the game open earlier for the Phillies. Instead, Domonic Brown was robbed of an RBI after a scorching line drive hit second base umpire Chad Fairchild. Ryan Howard would have walked home from third base, but instead the rules state he was to stay at the base on a dead ball. Brown’s hit loaded the bases and consequently, like clockwork, Wilson Valdez grounded into a double play, ending the threat.
The baserunners were a good sign. Although the Phillies did leave a total of 16 men on base, at least they were able to occupy those white things. It could have been more than seven on the scoreboard, but hey, one step at a time.
James McDonald, the Pirates starter, was the recipient of some pure luck. He walked five and made it through just four innings, giving up three runs. It could have been a much worse final line for him.
When all was said and done, the bats did not let down Halladay and Roy himself pitched another solid game. That’s all you can ask for at this point.
-John Mayberry Jr. was optioned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following the game. Ross Gload is back from paternity leave.