Chase Utley, Roy Halladay lift Phillies past Marlins, 6-4
His arrival in Philadelphia was celebrated four Decembers ago.
Citizens Bank Park broke out in pandemonium when the first postseason start of his Hall of Fame-worthy career ended with the second playoff no-hitter in baseball history.
Roy Halladay wanted to come to Philadelphia, and, with free agency looming, he really doesn’t want to leave, either.
But you can excuse him for not consuming the possible sentimentality that could have come with his start last night in South Philly, in a game that could have very well been his last appearance in Phillies home whites.
A competitive creature of habit and preparation, Halladay doesn’t look beyond the last hitter in the lineup he’s preparing to pitch to, let alone where he’ll be pitching in the scheduled starts that remain in his season.
"It's not out of lack of respect for the fans or anything like that," said Halladay, whose final two starts will come in Miami and Atlanta. "I just didn't [know]."
In what may have been the final South Philly appearance of his career, Doc dialed up a winning performance against the Miami Marlins. Halladay held the Marlins to one run in six innings while Chase Utley fueled the offense with three hits, including his second three-run home run in as many days, as the Phils rolled to a 6-4 victory.
"He went out and battled," manager Ryne Sandberg said of Halladay, who has had mixed results in five starts since his return from mid-May shoulder surgery. "He gutted it out and made pitches when he had to."
The start was Halladay’s finest in five games since returning from a 3-month stay on the disabled list.
Halladay allowed four hits — only one for extra bases — while walking three. He had allowed seven hits and 10 walks in his two previous outings.
"Today was the best I've been able to locate consistently," Halladay said. "That’s definitely satisfying ... The execution of pitches, I felt like it’s overall continued to get better. It’s obviously some ups and downs along the process, but you can’t ever get on that roller coaster of emotions and getting caught up and things like that."
Halladay helped guide the Phillies to their eighth win in their last 11 games. He used his new repertoire, a less-intimidating sinker and cutter but still-effective curves and changeups, to work his way through the Miami lineup.
Armed with a three-run lead after three innings, Halladay's biggest test came in the fifth.
After retiring the first two batters, Halladay gave up a double to leadoff hitter Donovan Solano and a run-scoring single to Ed Lucas. Then he walked Christian Yelich, bringing the go-ahead runner to the plate in the form of one of the game’s most lethal power hitters, Giancarlo Stanton.
But Halladay quickly got ahead in the count and placed a sinking changeup perfectly on a 1-2 pitch, getting Stanton to pop weakly to first baseman Kevin Frandsen in foul territory.
"He's the one guy in their lineup that if you're going to really try and be cautious with, it's him," Halladay said of Stanton, who reached on the two previous at-bats on a walk and getting hit with a pitch. "That was our approach all night — I'm going to try to make him hit my pitch. I don't want to, at any point, get in a situation where I have to throw him something he can do damage with."
For the third time in five starts since his return, Halladay gave the Phillies six innings. For the fourth time in those five starts, the Phillies won.
Although he's suffered through bouts of wildness — including Stanton, Halladay has hit six batters in 27-1/3 innings since his return — the former two-time Cy Young Award winner has also yielded two runs or fewer in three of his five starts. The post-surgery Halladay may not resemble the pitcher who threw a perfect game against the Marlins three summers ago, but he's still battled enough to help the Phillies win games.
"He's improving," Utley said. "He's coming off surgery with a new arm slot. It's something he has to get used to. It seems like his command is getting better. I'm a true believer in that the more reps he gets, the more comfortable he gets with the new arm slot, the more confident he'll be on the mound."
Utley helped, too.
Two months removed from avoiding his own date with free agency, Utley continued a torrid September by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Utley is hitting .367 (18-for-49) with 14 RBI in 14 games this month.
Jimmy Rollins also had three hits. Rollins and Utley hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the third inning before Carlos Ruiz brought both home. Ruiz, who is hitting .298 in a 3-month period since returning from the DL in June, handed his batterymate a 3-0 lead.
Halladay made that lead stand up, collecting the 203rd victory of his career.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21