Roy Halladay dazzled in his regular season debut with the Phillies against the Washington Nationals. After a shaky first inning in which he threw 19 pitches and allowed one run, Halladay breezed threw his final six innings. He finished with nine strikeouts as he had command and control of all of his pitches. Of his 88 pitches, 30 were cut fastballs, 23 were two-seam fastballs, 16 were curves, 15 were four-seam fastballs, and four were change-ups. The curve was especially vicious as the Nats swung and missed at six of the 16 he threw today.
The other star of the game was Placido Polanco. The third baseman was also making his debut (second debut, that is) with the Phils and was impressive both offensively and defensively. He turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play in the bottom of the fourth inning. In the seventh inning, Polanco broke the game wide open, hitting a grand slam to left field to bring the score to 11-1. He finished the day with three hits and six RBI in five at-bats.
Every Phillies starter, including Roy Halladay, finished the day with at least one hit. Jimmy Rollins looked to be back to his 2007-08 self, notching two hits, two walks, and a stolen base in six plate appearances. Ryan Howard, after an off-season in which his handling of breaking pitches was analyzed from every conceivable angle, launched a John Lannan slider into the seats in right field to start the Phillies’ scoring in the fourth inning. Overall, the Phillies drew nine walks to complement their 11 hits in an easy win over the Nationals.
There wasn’t much to criticize. Raul Ibanez continued to look lost at the plate and Antonio Bastardo wasn’t sharp in his two-thirds of an inning, but nothing should sound the alarms.
Some Opening Day notes:
- Polanco became the 14th player in Major League history to drive in six or more runs on Opening Day. The record is seven, held by Corey Patterson (2003) and Brant Alyea (1970). Adam Lind drove in six runs last year with the Jays. No Phillie has ever driven in six runs on Opening Day.
- Carlos Ruiz drew three walks, a great sign. The catcher has gradually become a more complete offensive player. He may find himself in the second-tier of catchers by the end of the season.
- Halladay’s start, while good, does not even begin to crack the list of best Opening Day pitching performances. His game score of 68 ranks only 18th-best among Phillies Opening Day starts. Chris Short lays claim to the two best starts in 1965 and ’68. However, the Phillies haven’t had an Opening Day start as good as Halladay’s since Curt Schilling in 1998 when he threw eight shut-out innings.
- The Phillies drew nine or more walks eight times last year. Unsurprisingly, they won all eight and scored double-digit runs in four of them.