Nights like tonight are one of the big reasons the Phillies thought they could upgrade over Cliff Lee in December of 2009. Show me a pitcher you would rather have on the mound to stop a three-game losing streak and I'll show you a list of reasons why you are wrong. Halladay enters tonight's epic tilt against Josh Johnson having posted 15 straight zeroes. The last inning he allowed a run was the first inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series. The Phillies have scored just one run in those 15 subsequent innings, but we'll worry about that later today.
First, let's look at how Halladay stacks up against this new-and-improved Marlins team. As we saw in that NLDS loss to the Cardinals, the hitters who often give him the most trouble are the little guys: the Rafael Furcals (leadoff triple in Game 5), the Skip Schumakers (RBI double in Game 5), and, yes, the Jose Reyeses (Jose Reyei?).
One of the things we witnessed in the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Marlins on Monday is that Florida does not subsist on home runs alone. With Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio at the top of the line-up, they have the speed and base-reaching ability to manufacture runs. It remains to be seen whether Giancarlo Stanton is healthy enough to play tonight, but keep in mind that the young slugger is 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in his career against Halladay.
Reyes, on the other hand, is 12-for-29 with three doubles, two triples, one walk and three strikeouts. Keeping the little bugger off the basepaths is going to be a big key in tonight's game.
Another player to watch: outfielder Chris Coghlan, who is 6-for-16 with a pair of doubles against Halladay and is the type of pesky line drive hitter who can give him trouble. The Phillies will need to have their bunt defense in order.
Halladay has faced the Marlins eight times since joining the Phillies. As you can see below, he has lost three games in which he held them to two or fewer earned runs:
*Denotes complete game