Halladay has 'blast' in first Phils start
Club's new ace settles in, dominates Nationals in rout
WASHINGTON -- Roy Halladay's Opening Day start began in earnest about a week ago.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said early Monday morning at Nationals Park that Halladay had started studying film of Nationals hitters last week. The righty took that information and held a meeting with Dubee and catcher Carlos Ruiz on Sunday. Halladay and Ruiz spoke again Monday morning at the ballpark before Halladay made one of the most highly anticipated regular-season starts in franchise history.
"I had a blast," Halladay said. "It was everything I've expected so far."
Halladay allowed two hits, one run and one walk in the first inning, but dominated the rest of the way in an 11-1 victory. He allowed just six hits, one run and two walks in seven innings. He struck out nine.
"I felt pretty comfortable early on," Halladay said. "That just goes back to where your focus is. You try not to get too caught up in the outside things that are going on and where you are and who you're playing for and try to focus on your game plan. Strangely, I felt very comfortable. I felt very normal."
Halladay waived his complete no-trade clause to join the Phillies in December. He wanted to play in Philadelphia because he had never tasted postseason success. He believes the Phils, who have won back-to-back National League pennants and the 2008 World Series, can get him there.
"Nothing against Toronto, but it kind of gives you a renewed energy coming over here," Halladay said. "The guys have been great. The team obviously is a team that wants to win and can win. It's fun for me. You feel like you're just out there chipping in, really, the way these guys go about their business. You're just trying to just fill in a role."
Game day is a serious day for Halladay. Ruiz said he noticed immediately that Halladay meant business when he saw him in the hotel lobby.
"I could see it in his face," Ruiz said. "It was like, 'It's time. The season starts right now.'"
Halladay mostly keeps to himself on the days he pitches, and Monday was no exception. Not that teammates can't talk to Halladay. They can, and they did.
|"I played with him in Toronto and again in Spring Training. I know what type of talent he is and the type of competitor he is. All that shined through today. He is that good. He gave up a run in the first and didn't blink an eye. He put up zeros the rest of the day. I think that's something we'll see all year."|
|-- Jayson Werth, on Roy Halladay|
"I don't care who you are, I'm talking to you," Jimmy Rollins said. "You might have a ritual, but I'm going to break it. Your superstitions, I really don't follow. Either you're good or you're not. Either it's going to happen or it's not. Now if he goes out there and starts losing games in a row, I'll back off."
Halladay allowed his only run in the first inning, but his only mistake was a sinker away that came back over the plate, which Ryan Zimmerman smacked for a double to right-center field to score Washington's only run.
"It caught a lot of the plate," Halladay said. "Those things happen. You just try to limit the mistakes. I didn't feel like there was a lot of pressure to really scramble out of that inning. I felt like we made some good pitches. It's just a matter of making more of them."
Halladay recovered beautifully. He retired 15 of the final 19 batters he faced. He threw just 88 pitches.
"You don't want to nitpick and cost yourself extra baserunners or extra pitches," he said. "I think it's more of a mindset of being aggressive. I felt like, at that point, I had two or three pitches I could throw for strikes. You're trying to do that and not get carried away with picking at corners and things like that. You want to be aggressive and put the ball in play."
Ruiz said Halladay provided him a lot of information about how he wanted to attack hitters.
"I trust you," Halladay told the catcher. "If you call a pitch, I've got to make a good one."
Halladay never shook off one pitch that Ruiz called for.
"He gave me all the information," Ruiz said. "If everything goes OK, there's no reason to shake me off, because we're on the same page. He's a smart guy. We had a really good plan. It was fun."
Ruiz said he can't wait for Halladay's next start, and he is not alone.
"I played with him in Toronto and again in Spring Training," Jayson Werth said. "I know what type of talent he is and the type of competitor he is. All that shined through today. He is that good. He gave up a run in the first and didn't blink an eye. He put up zeros the rest of the day. I think that's something we'll see all year."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.