Roy Halladay was ecstatic in mid-December to be traded to a team that had won two straight National League pennants and three straight division titles by bashing the daylights out of baseballs.
With the kind of run support the Phillies had displayed over the last five seasons, 25 wins seemed possible – even probable – for the team’s prized off-season pitching addition.
So imagine Halladay’s surprise when he found himself working for a team that has struggled so mightily to score runs this season that the manager felt the need to fire the hitting instructor.
“Obviously, with the talent that’s in here, you don’t expect it,” Halladay said. “I think what they’ve done the last few years has been pretty impressive. It’s sometimes hard to keep that level all the time, but I’ve also been on teams where you go through those struggles and things end up evening out toward the end of the year.”
Halladay hopes Friday night marked the beginning of a pendulum swing for the Phillies. He continued to play his role of dominant pitcher with eight sensational innings, and the offense came through with a five-run fifth during a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.
“Hopefully it’s going in the right direction,” Halladay said after scattering five singles and striking out nine to raise his record to 11-8. “You hate to see somebody lose their job over it, but it’s always a business, and you have to produce.”
Signs of offensive life on this night came from two of the hitters who have struggled the most. Jimmy Rollins, whose average had slipped from .341 to .227 since he returned from the disabled list June 22, finished the night with a single, double and walk. Raul Ibanez, whose lack of production has been a problem much of the season, finished with three hits and three RBIs.
Those two played major roles during the Phillies’ five-run fifth.
Rollins opened the inning with a single that buzzed past the head of Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook. Manager Charlie Manuel ordered a hit-and-run that Placido Polanco perfectly executed, and Ibanez followed by ripping a double into left-center field.
“That’s definitely a good sign,” Ibanez said. “What we did together as a team in that inning was put pressure on the other team. We had a lot of action on the bases. Charlie put a hit-and-run on and Polanco executed it brilliantly. We were able to [score] as a team, and that’s what it’s going to take.”
The biggest blow of the inning came from Ross Gload, a reserve who had not been in the starting lineup since June 26. Gload, playing for Shane Victorino, launched a three-one pitch into the seats in right-center field for a two-run homer that ended Cook’s outing.