Halladay shakes off disastrous inning
Jays ace not worried about errors, 10 runs allowed in fifth
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The scoreboard at Knology Park wasn't built to handle the kind of offensive onslaught that took place on Tuesday afternoon. In the sqaures reserved for runs, only zeroes were listed on the old blue and white board, which didn't have room for a double-digit inning.
During Roy Halladay's final tune-up start before Opening Day, Tampa Bay took advantage of a comedy of errors en route to a 10-run outburst in the fifth inning. The Blue Jays' ace exited in the midst of the disastrous frame, which included five Toronto gaffes that helped the Rays to a 10-0 victory.
"That's baseball. It happens," Halladay said with a shrug. "Obviously, there's guys out there that aren't going to be there during the year and that's some tough spots they're put in. You can't ever forget that it's Spring Training."
Halladay was alluding to the fact that Toronto had given second baseman Aaron Hill the day off, handing the job over to 18-year-old John Tolisano for the day. Tolisano, who is a highly-touted prospect for the Jays, committed three errors in the fifth inning, opening the floodgates for Tampa Bay.
After the inning, in which Toronto regulars Lyle Overbay and Rod Barajas were also charged with errors, Halladay approached Tolisano to tell the young second baseman to shake off the unfortunate chain of events. Halladay wanted to make sure Tolisano -- a second-round pick in last June's First-Year Player Draft -- didn't regret joining the Jays for a rare start.
"I feel for the kid who was out there," Halladay said. "He's a tough kid and I think he's going to handle it fine. But it's a tough situation for him to be in -- to come up and get in a game like that and have something like that happen. I hope it doesn't leave a bad taste in his mouth."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons echoed Halladay's thoughts.
"We had a young kid out there -- a kid fresh out of high school who has played very good for us," Gibbons said. "He made some nice plays, but he had that tough inning. Then it kind of snowballed, but everyone kind of pitched in. We'll let that go. He's a kid that's going to have a heck of a future. People are going to pay to watch him play some day."
The professional that he is, Halladay was quick to shoulder any blame for the way the fifth inning unraveled. The veteran right-hander said he simply didn't make the proper adjustments after the Rays put runners on base. When it was all said and done, Halladay had yielded 10 runs (four earned) on nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk in four-plus innings.
"We just didn't change speeds very good once things started going," Halladay said. "My location was fine. It was just a matter of changing speeds and I just didn't make that adjustment. To me, that was the biggest difference."
Halladay, who surrendered a solo home run to Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes to open the fifth inning, was scheduled to pitch seven innings against Tampa Bay. Once his pitch count climbed to 76, though, Gibbons decided that it was in the team's best interest to pull the ace from the game.
"You don't want him to throw too many pitches in one inning," Gibbons said. "You want him to get his work and try to stretch him to seven innings, but you also don't want to abuse him and leave him out there."
Halladay finished his work in the bullpen and will now have five days off before his first regular-season start on March 31, when Toronto takes on New York in Yankee Stadium on Opening Day. Halladay, who went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA last season for the Jays, said he's anxious to move beyond Spring Training.
"You're always looking forward to it," he said. "That's why you play, to go out and compete when it means something. I think we're all excited to be able to get things going and start the season. Spring Training sometimes drags on, so it's nice to turn the page on it and get going on the year."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.