August 21 Philadelphia Inquirer
Mike Sweeney, late for stretching, raced through the room and yelled, “Go Cubs!” Halladay didn’t flinch. After a few minutes, he needed a change. He stood up and walked out of the room.
Hours later, the Phillies beat Washington, 1-0. Halladay pitched seven scoreless innings, escaping multiple jams and handed the game to Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge, both of whom coasted yet again.
Halladay is pitching in his first true pennant race. He has excelled at every other challenge put before him in 12 major-league seasons and so far, this is no exception.
“I predict he’ll handle it pretty good,” Charlie Manuel quipped Friday afternoon.
With the tying run on first in the seventh inning, Halladay walked Adam Dunn, which tied a season-high three walks. Ball four was Halladay’s 113th pitch of the night, and that finally prompted Manuel to tell Rich Dubee it was time for a call to the bullpen.
But as Jose Contreras barely began to warm up, Halladay’s 116th pitch – a 93 m.p.h. fastball – set off a series of fortunate events for the Phillies.
Ryan Zimmerman lined the pitch to leftfield. Raul Ibanez was in perfect position to make the catch. Ian Desmond, who took off stealing from second just as Halladay released the ball, slid into third base only to realize he had to scramble back to second.
Ibanez’s throw was wild, but Desmond overslid the bag, and Chase Utley acrobatically placed the tag on Desmond. The inning was over, and so was Halladay’s night.
Pause, for a moment, to digest Halladay’s season in a Phillies context: His 2.16 ERA would be the lowest for a Phillies starter since Steve Carlton’s magical 1.97 season in 1972.
He leads the National League in innings pitched (200) and strikeouts (180). He would become the first Phillie to accomplish both of those feats since Curt Schilling did it in 1998.
And with 16 wins, Halladay has a decent chance at becoming the first Phillies pitcher to win 20 games since Carlton went 23-11 in 1982.”
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