September 16 Philadelphia Daily News:
“The wins just keep on coming. For the Phillies, and for the pitcher who has been every bit as advertised since joining the club this offseason. Roy Halladay’s repertoire wasn’t at its sharpest last night, but it was plenty good enough for the Phillies to take advantage of a mish-mashed Marlins pitching staff in a 10-5 win.
Halladay, who allowed three runs on 10 hits in six innings to improve to 19-10, needs one victory in his final three starts to become the first Phillies pitcher to record 20 wins since Steve Carlton went 23-11 with a 3.10 ERA in 1982. He’ll get his first chance at the milestone – he has reached it twice before – on Tuesday in what will almost surely be his biggest start yet for his new team.
On Monday, the Phillies open up a three-game series with the Braves, who lost to the Nationals yesterday to fall three games back in the NL East race. Atlanta plays a three-game series in New York this weekend. The Phillies open a nine-game homestand tomorrow against the Nationals. Both the Phillies (86-61) and Braves (83-64) have 15 games left.
“I’ve played in this atmosphere a lot in Toronto,” Halladay said, referring to a near-empty Sun Life Stadium. “So I’m kind of glad to be away from it. I’m definitely looking forward to being home. Obviously, it’s one of the best places in baseball to play right now with all of the fans, all of the excitement. Definitely looking forward to getting there. It’s a big series coming up. We put ourselves in a good spot and it would be nice to go in and play well this homestand.”
Less than 2 months ago, the Phillies trailed the Braves by seven games. But since July 21, when they suffered a 5-1 loss in St. Louis to fall to 48-46, the Phillies are 38-15, the best record in the National League and second-best in the majors behind the Twins (36-13). The Braves are 28-25.
The Phils have won four straight, eight out of nine, 13 of 16, and 16 of 20 since being swept by the Astros in four games at Citizens Bank Park, Aug. 23-26.
That being said, they are well aware at the speed with which fortunes can change in the final 2 weeks of the season. In 2007, they trailed the Mets by 5 1/2 with 15 to play and rallied to win the division title. In 2008, when they won a second straight division crown en route to their World Series title, they were down three with 15 to play. Last season, they held a comfortable seven-game lead with 15 to play.
“We’re not in control of it right now,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We can definitely control what we’re going to do by winning.”
Last night’s game was rarely in doubt. The Phillies were in line to face Cy Young contender Josh Johnson until the Marlins shut down their prized righthander for the rest of the season with a back injury. With Alex Sanabia serving a five-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl with the Nationals earlier this month, Florida was forced to take a by-committee pitching approach. Not unlike a lot of committees, this one failed miserably. Jorge Sosa looked very much like a pitcher making his first start since 2007, allowing four straight baserunners with two outs in the first inning, two of whom scored on a double by Raul Ibanez. Add in an RBI single from Jayson Werth, and the Phillies finished the first frame with a 3-0 lead that they quickly expanded. By the end of the fourth inning, the score had grown to 8-2.”
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