After 20 outs, 80 minutes and a live pierogi race, Ty Wigginton finally plated the Phillies’ first run in the seventh inning. With Roy Halladay on the mound, that was all the Phils needed Thursday in a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh.
“It always feels good to win, whether it’s Opening Day or the last day,” Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel said. “It’s what we come to the ballpark for.”
The undisputed staff ace gave up back-to-back singles to start the game, then promptly revoked all batting licenses. Halladay threw a two-hit shutout — his first ever on Opening Day — while striking out five and walking none in eight innings.
Andrew McCutchen and Clint Barmes were the only Pirates to reach base — Halladay plunked them both — after the first. Jonathan Papelbon needed 10 pitches to record his first save as a Phillie.
As anticipated, the offense struggled without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Wigginton reached on a single in the seventh, then moved up to third on a double by John Mayberry Jr. Wigginton scored on a shallow sacrifice fly from Carlos Ruiz.
“You can’t really pitch to a scoreboard,” Halladay said. “You go out and try to keep guys from scoring the whole game. Stick to your game plan. Anytime you go out there thinking I can’t give up a run or two runs, it affects the way you pitch.”
The Phillies’ five-, six- and seven-hole hitters — Wigginton, Mayberry and Ruiz — went a combined 6-for-11. The rest of the regulars mustered just two hits total and one of them was from Halladay. Is it a new brand of Phillies baseball? Or a sign of slumps to come?
“We manufactured runs. I think you might see that a little more from us than in years past,” Mayberry said. “Hopefully, we start swinging the bats and put up several runs and give our pitchers some leeway.”
What went right …
1. Seeing red — Pittsburgh’s PNC Park ranked 22nd in the majors in attendance in 2011, with a 24,255 per game average. On Thursday, the ballpark set a new record for a single game with 39,585. Think the Phillies had something to do with that?
2. Pitch count — Since Roy Halladay hadn’t exceeded 88 pitches in any spring start, the Phils chose to be cautious with their ace. Charlie Manuel pulled him after eight innings and 92 pitches. Doc didn’t resist.
3. Nice glove — John Mayberry Jr. might have played himself into an everyday job in left field. Mayberry started, made two run-saving web gems and went 2-for-4 at the plate. Manuel said he’s one of the best defensive outfielders, too.