Roy Halladay said he sets two goals before each season begins: to limit walks and log a lot of innings. Achieving those goals will depend heavily on Carlos Ruiz.
The Phillies new ace met with his catcher prior to yesterday’s season opener to discuss strategy. The result? A seven-inning, two-walk gem that ended with the Phillies’ first Opening Day win since 2005.
“I had a blast, it was everything I expected,” Halladay said. “Nothing against Toronto, but it kind of gives you a renewed energy coming over here. It’s a team that wants to win, and can win.”
Halladay worked at his usually brisk pace, throwing 88 pitches (59 for strikes) and striking out nine batters. The pitcher was so good that Ruiz didn’t shake him off once.
“It’s fun for me and my teammates,” Ruiz said.
The ace right-hander even helped himself at the plate. Facing a steady diet of cutters from Nationals starter John Lannan, Halladay somehow turned a busted bunt into an RBI single.
“I’m kind of glad to have that over with,” Halladay said. “It’s something I feel like I can get a lot better at.”
Surprisingly, the Phillies trailed after a shaky first inning. After giving up a lead-off single and stolen base to Nyjer Morgan, Halladay threw a sinker that caught the plate and Ryan Zimmerman doubled to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
“Really, it was one bad pitch. I didn’t feel like there was a lot of pressure,” Halladay said.
To illustrate that point, he downed eight of the next 10 Nationals he faced before the Phillies took a 5-1 lead in the fourth. Just in case Washington didn’t get the memo, Placido Polanco swelled the advantage to 11-1 in the seventh with his second career grand slam.