Phillies pound Nats behind Halladay

Roy Halladay deals against the Nationals in his Phillies debut. The team's big off-season acquisition lived up to his billing.
Roy Halladay deals against the Nationals in his Phillies debut. The team's big off-season acquisition lived up to his billing.
Posted: April 06, 2010

WASHINGTON - At 9:49 a.m., Carlos Ruiz interrupted a stoic Roy Halladay. The new Phillies ace was sitting, facing his locker and wearing headphones while reading over his handwritten notes on the Washington Nationals lineup.

It was time to meet with pitching coach Rich Dubee and discuss the plan the Phillies used to defeat the Nationals, 11-1, 6 hours, 29 minutes later. Halladay did all the talking, Ruiz said, when normally Dubee handles it with other pitchers.

This is how Halladay began his Phillies' career: He gave Ruiz all the information he had on the opposing lineup. Then he trusted a catcher he's never worked with in a regular-season game to make the right decisions. Halladay didn't shake off a sign Ruiz put down the entire game.

"Not one time," Ruiz said.

After a hiccup in the first inning, Halladay cruised through the next six, needing only 88 total pitches. He struck out nine and walked two. Other than a sinker that stayed up in the zone and was laced for a run-scoring double by Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning, Halladay was near flawless.

"He is that good," rightfielder Jayson Werth said.

And when the Phillies traded for Halladay in the off-season and subsequently signed him to a three-year $60 million deal, this is what they envisioned: an offense that can score in droves, letting its star pitcher throw in comfort.

Consider opening day a success.

The Phillies sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and scored five runs, chasing Washington's starting pitcher, John Lannan. Ryan Howard hit a two-run home run. Shane Victorino, Halladay and Placido Polanco all drove in runs. (Polanco would later hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to set a career-high with six RBIs.)

That was more than enough for Halladay.

"After that fourth inning, it takes a lot of the pressure off you, and you just go out and be aggressive and just kind of settle into the game," Halladay said. "I had a blast. Everything I expected so far."

The beginning didn't look like what the Phillies expected. The first pitch Halladay threw was hit to left field for a single by Nyjer Morgan. Morgan stole second, and Zimmerman doubled to center to put the Nationals ahead, 1-0, three batters into Halladay's career as a Phillie.

"It took him a little while to get his command down," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Once he started using his pitches and had better location and command, I felt like he was fine. He looked like he had control of the game."

He did. Between innings, Ruiz said he talked to Halladay. Not once did they deviate from the plan.

"It's been fun for me," Halladay said. "Nothing against Toronto, but it kind of gives you a renewed energy coming over here."

Since Halladay answered his cell phone on a December day while on his boat in Florida and was told he could go to Philadelphia as long as he approved the trade, everything had been leading up to Monday.

All the attention along the way wasn't a problem.

"Fortunately, I didn't have to talk to anybody about it," Halladay said. "I just kind of put my headphones on and go about my business."


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com.

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