How does a team come back from an ugly loss at the hands of the lowly Washington Nationals? By trotting out the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, that’s how.
Roy Halladay (2-0) threw all nine innings in Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory over Washington, and took a shutout into the bottom of the ninth inning. He allowed only six hits during the contest, four of which came during the last frame for the Nationals. Halladay was cruising along during the firs eight innings, until Washington center fielder Rick Ankiel led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to the right center gap. Former Phillies’ right fielder Jayson Werth followed Ankiel by pulling a single to left field, moving Ankiel to third base. After left fielder Adam LaRoche struck out, two consecutive singles from Lance Nix and Danny Espinosa pulled the Nats’ within a run. However, Halladay was able to strike out both Matt Stairs and Ivan Rodriguez on six consecutive strikes combined to end the game. Halladay struck out nine batters total, while walking two.
It wasn’t the prettiest of offensive efforts for the Phightins’. Their six total hits on the night is one of their lowest to date during the young 2011 season. Nationals’ starter John Lannan (1-1) held the Phillies in check for most of the night during his six inning effort, allowing only two earned runs on six hits.
The Phillies had the chance to strike first in the top of the 1st inning, after Shane Victorino hit a lead off double to left and Placido Polanco followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second with no outs. But a Jimmy Rollins double play and Ryan Howard strike out ended the inning for the Phils’ without being able to capitalize.
The Phillies, or the Nationals depending on how one looks at it, accomplished a rare feat in the top of the 4th inning, scoring a run without recording a hit. Rollins led off the inning and reached first on a fielding error by Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond. Howard followed him with a ground out, but after Rollins kept running to third, he was deemed safe even after being tagged at third due to an interference call against the Desmond, his second error of the inning. Ben Francisco then grounded out to Desmond, allowing Rollins to score from third.
The Phillies tacked on two more in the top of the fifth inning, with Polanco and Howard driving in two runs during the frame. The Phils’ had the bases loaded with two outs, but Francisco flied out to center field to end the inning.
While it is frustrating to watch a game like Tuesday night’s loss to Werth and the Nationals, isn’t it so comforting to know that after every Joe Blanton melt down comes a Roy Halladay gem? Or after a rare bad outing by one of the ‘big 4′, such as Cliff Lee’s outing versus Atlanta last week, the opposition has to face at least one more ace during the series?
Speaking of Lee, he’ll take the mound for the series finale on Thursday against the Nationals’ starter Jordan Zimmerman
Notes: Nationals’ starter Lannan is 0-9 in his career versus the Phillies; Halladay is 9-1 in his career versus the Nationals; today marks the two-year anniversary of the passing of Phillies’ and broadcasting legend Harry Kalas, who passed on April 13th, 2009 at Nationals Park