Roy Halladay’s amazing start to the season continued last night as he delivered a complete game shutout against the Braves in Atlanta. Halladay got more than a little help from his defense in the game. Shane Victorino went over the wall to take a home run away, Chase Utley made a fantastic play to start a critical double-play late in the game and Ryan Howard made several nice plays at first.
Halladay isn’t the only guy pitching well in the rotation for the Phils these days. Hamels, Kendrick and Halladay have now given the Phillies three fantastic starts in a row. Over those three games the Phils starters have allowed two earned runs in 25 innings (0.72 ERA and an 0.76 ratio). The Phillies have four quality starts in their last five games.
All that good starting pitching and defense is going to come in handy for the Phils as they continue a stretch where they score very few runs. They have scored six times in their last four games. Polanco left last night’s game early after being hit on the elbow by a pitch. Assuming he’s not in the lineup tonight, that puts more of a burden on a team struggling offensively that played the last few innings of last night’s game with Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez on the left side of their infield.
The Phils are 9-5 on the season after beating the Braves 2-0 last night.
Halladay got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game shutout. He allowed five hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out seven. After four starts, he’s 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA.
He set Nate McLouth, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones down in order in first.
He started the bottom of the second with a 1-0 lead and got Brian McCann, Troy Glaus and Jason Heyward in order with the help of a great catch by Victorino. Glaus drove the ball deep to center field. Victorino made a long run to the track and jumped at the wall, reaching above the wall to take away what would have been a home run.
Yunel Escobar, Melky Cabrera and Tim Hudson went in order in the third.
Chipper split the gap in left center with two outs in the fourth for a double. McCann was next and struck out swinging to leave him stranded.
Halladay had another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, getting Glaus on a fly ball to center and Heyward and Escobar on ground outs.
The Phillies were up 2-0 when Halladay started the sixth. Cabrera led off with a single and switch-hitter Brooks Conrad hit for the pitcher Hudson. He fouled out to Ruiz for the first out. Halladay got McLouth on a fly ball to center and Prado on a grounder to third to end the inning with Cabrera stranded.
Wilson Valdez was at third base to start the bottom of the seventh. Jones and McCann singled back-to-back to get things started, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Halladay struck out Glaus for the first out before Heyward walked to load the bases. Escobar smashed a ball back up the middle, but Utley gloved it diving to his right. He flipped to second for the first out and Castro’s relay to first completed the double-play and ended the inning.
Huge play by Utley.
Lefty Eric Hinske hit for the pitcher Jonny Venters with one out in the eighth and flared a ball into left that dropped near the line for a double. A ground out by McLouth moved him to third, but Prado grounded to short to leave him stranded.
Halladay had thrown 101 pitches through eight innings.
He was back for the ninth and threw another 1-2-3 inning with the help of three nice defensive plays. Chipper led off and ripped a ball in between first and second, but Howard made a great diving play to his first to field the ball and tossed to first to get him. McCann grounded hard to Howard for the second out. Glaus was next and he hit a ball slowly to third. Valdez charged and made a nice play, throwing him out at first to end the game.
The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Castro (8) Ruiz. Rollins on the DL and Castro at short.
Polanco was drilled on the left elbow with one out in the first and went to second on a wild pitch after Utley struck out swinging. Howard struck out to leave him stranded.
Werth and Ibanez started the second with back-to-back doubles. 1-0. Castro moved Ibanez to third with a single to left. Ruiz flew to right with the runners holding. Halladay struck out for the second out. Victorino flew to center to leave both men stranded.
Nice to see Werth and Ibanez do some damage, but the Phils can’t get any more after putting men on first and third with nobody out.
Utley doubled into the right field corner after Polanco grounded to the pitcher to start the third. Howard was walked intentionally. Werth struck out swinging for the second out. Ibanez chopped a ball back up the middle, but Escobar fielded near second base and threw him out to leave two more stranded.
I thought it was pretty early to walk Howard intentionally, especially after Werth and Ibanez doubled back-to-back the inning before. It worked, though.
The Phillies went in order in the fourth and again in the fifth.
Howard started the sixth with a single and came around to score when Werth followed with a double. 2-0. Werth took third on the throw, but the Phillies wouldn’t be able to bring him home. The lefty Ibanez was walked intentionally. Castro followed with a ball hit to short. Escobar came home with it and the Braves got Werth. First and second with one out for Ruiz. Ruiz hit a ground ball to second and Castro was forced at second for the second out. Halladay grounded to short for the third out.
Werth in the middle of the scoring again for the Phils. The Phillies can’t add another run with a man on third and nobody out as the Braves get Werth at the plate on Castro’s ground ball.
Lefty Jonny Venters set the Phillies down in order in the seventh. Wilson Valdez hit for Polanco and grounded to short for the second out.
The Phils went in order in the eighth.
Ruiz doubled to left with one out in the ninth off of Takashi Saito. Halladay moved him to third with a ground out, but Victorino struck out looking to leave him stranded.
Victorino was 0-for-5 and struck out twice. He’s hitting .210 for the year after going 1-for-his-last-14.
Polanco 0-for-2 and left in the seventh after being hit by a pitch early. This says he’s likely to be out of the lineup in tonight’s game but may not miss too many games.
Utley was 1-for-4 with a double and struck out twice. He made a huge defensive play in the seventh to start the double-play.
Howard was fantastic with the glove in the game as well. He was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game.
Werth was in the middle of all the scoring. 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI.
Ibanez was 1-for-3 with a walk and a double. He’s still hitting just .196, but is 2-for-his-last-5 with three walks.
Castro was 1-for-4.
Ruiz 1-for-4 and left four men on base.
Moyer (1-1, 7.50) faces righty Derek Lowe (3-0, 4.67) tonight. Moyer has made two starts and didn’t pitch very well in either of them. In each start he allowed five runs in a single inning. Atlanta has scored at least seven runs in each of the three games that Lowe has started this season.