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Roy Halladay pitched through ‘pop in back’ during Game 5 of 2011 NLDS


Roy Halladay was on the ropes in the first inning of Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS.

After allowing a leadoff triple by Rafael Furcal, Halladay surrendered an RBI double off of the bat of St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Skip Schumaker. Halladay managed to escape the top of the first inning only having allowed one run, but he needed 33 pitches to do so. It appeared that it would be a short night for the future Hall of Famer, as the Phillies season hung in the balance.

Roy Halladay pitched through an injured in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS. (Christopher Szagola/Icon Sportswire)

Of course, in typical Halladay fashion, he set aside a disappointing first inning and ended up pitching seven more scoreless innings. The Phillies wouldn’t be able to score a single run off of Chris Carpenter, who tossed a complete-game shutout for the Cardinals. However, Halladay, especially when you consider how his evening started, delivered an incredible performance in a win-or-go-home situation, allowing just one run over eight frames.

If Halladay laboring through eight innings after a disastrous start wasn’t enough, his story now has another layer.

Halladay’s widow, Brandy, now says that Halladay suffered a significant back injury early in the start and continued to pitch effectively anyway. She told John Barr, Mike Farrell and Brian Rivera of ESPN that Halladay “felt a pop in his back,” one that he pitched through despite it happening either in the first or second inning.

That nugget was included in Todd Zolecki’s recent book, “Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay.” However, she describes in-depth in this piece how Halladay felt when he arrived home after the crushing defeat that evening.

“When he came home, he was just in so much pain, and I remember watching him get up out of bed and…he sneezed. He fell onto the ground and was sitting on all fours, and he was in so much pain, he couldn’t get back up and he laid there for probably 10 to 15 minutes,” Brandy said to ESPN.

The piece – which features excerpts from Friday’s E:60 documentary “Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story” – suggests that a drive to continue pitching is one of the reasons that Halladay turned to prescription drugs. Halladay, who pitched for the Phillies from 2010-2013, began taking opiods in the spring of 2012. That coincided with a noticeable velocity increase, one we now know was caused by the wear-and-tear of the first 14 years of his career.

In the piece, pitching coach Rich Dubee says that Halladay was confronted by a notable member of the team at one point about his abuse of prescription drugs. After the 2013 season concluded, Halladay first entered a rehabilitation facility, according to Brandy.

The documentary, which will focus on the trials and tribulations of Halladay’s life, will air Friday evening at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. You can watch the trailer below:

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