Halladay throws fifth complete game to beat A's


Sunday, June 26, 2011
Posted: 3:51 p.m.Updated: 7:43 p.m.

By Jim Salisbury


The Phillies are seeing both ends of the American League spectrum on this homestand. The Oakland Athletics are the best pitching team in the AL. The Boston Red Sox are the best hitting team in the AL.

If the Phils have as much success against the Sox as they did the As, they will be a happy bunch when they board their charter flight to Toronto on Thursday night for yet another interleague series.

Oaklands pitching staff was as formidable as billed. But the Phillies have a pretty fair pitching staff themselves -- you might have heard that a time or two since December -- and despite scoring just five runs in the series, they were able to win two of three to put themselves on the doorstep of 50 wins less than half way into the season. The Phils are a major league-best 49-30 two games shy of the halfway point.

Thats a testament to how good our staff is, said Jimmy Rollins, referring to the Phils being able to win the series despite scoring just five runs.

Rollins spoke an hour after the Phillies 3-1 win over the As on Sunday afternoon. He broke out of an 0-for-15 slump with four hits and scored two runs to help Roy Halladay earn his 10th with in his league-best fifth complete game.

Not long ago, the Phillies were a team of mashers that could throw up five runs in a couple of innings. Theyre older now. Core players have been banged up. The overall pendulum of the game has shifted toward pitching. The Phillies dont pile up the runs like they used to. But they pitch. (Their starters have an ERA of 3.02.)

Thats how they can win a series scoring five runs.

Rollins, the longest tenured Phillie, talked about the teams shift from an offensive-minded club to a pitching-based club.

If you could combine the two, it would be great, he said. If we start combining the two we might be the greatest team ever to play this game.

But usually there is a yin and a yang. When we didnt have the pitching we have now, we had to slug. Now we have the pitching and it just so happens that we havent been able to score the runs that we used to. But thats baseball. The dynamics of this team have changed. But were just as good of a team -- if not better.

The Phils entered Sunday ranked 10th in the National League in batting average and seventh in runs. They had finished first or second in runs the previous six seasons, but will have a difficult time doing that again this season if things dont turn around.

While some people fret over the teams offense, Rollins looks at the bright side.

People can accept whatever they want, he said. The bottom line is you want that left column to keep going up. As long as that happens, no one has anything to complain about.

The Phillies are on pace to become the first NL team to win 100 games since the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals. With half a season to go, Halladay is on pace to have his fourth 20-win season and second straight with the Phillies.

Halladay only received three runs of support Sunday, but two of them came in the first inning. An early deficit against a guy like Halladay can be daunting.

Its a mountain already facing a guy like Roy, Rollins said. When youre down by two runs, its got to be tough. We got a couple of runs and were able smother them.

After seeing his team score just two runs in the previous two games, manager Charlie Manuel must have thought hed hit the lottery getting two runs in the first inning and three for the game.

I dont know if theres a different energy, but sometimes if you score three or four runs our starting pitching has a good chance to win the game, he said. Thats the way I look at it. If you score two runs early you give them some breathing room. That means a whole lot.

Halladay limited Oakland to eight hits, several of which were softly hit, and one run. He did not walk a batter for the fourth time in six starts. The Phils have been victorious in his last eight starts.

Its always fun to watch him pitch, first baseman Ryan Howard said of Halladay. I feel like every time I watch him its the first time. Hes such a great competitor. The way he and Carlos Ruiz work together. They might be one of the deadliest pitcher-catcher combinations in baseball right now. Theyre gangsta.

Halladay is much too square to be considered gangsta. But he is pretty special. He is 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 10 home starts this season.

Too bad hell be out of circulation against the Red Sox, who visit for three games starting Tuesday night.

Halladays next start will come Saturday against the Blue Jays in Toronto. He spent a decade with the Jays before coming to the Phillies, but wont let emotion stand in his way of making a bid for his 11th win.

Obviously its my first time back, but I dont anticipate it being any different than any other road start, said Hallday. For me, I feel like its a regular road start.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.

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