After one go-around with the Phive Aces the ball was back in the hand of our top Ace, Roy “Doc” Halladay on Thursday. It was a rubber match game with the rival Mets that the Phillies desperately needed for early bragging rights. Nobody likes losing to the Muts no matter what month it is. Doc proved why he is the reigning Cy Young award winner throwing 7 scoreless innings for his first victory of the season. The Phillies bats continued to make noise with an 11-0 victory at the Bank.
"I felt good out there," Halladay said. "The weather didn't bother me. I felt good out of the stretch. I think the important thing is to continue to go out and play the games. Whether we're 0-5 or 5-1, it shouldn't affect how you play. I don't think anyone is too caught up in it. We have a tough stretch of games coming up."
Halladay’s ERA is now 0.69 for the year. As if humanly possible for the best pitcher in baseball, Halladay seems to get better and better with every outing. He is a shutdown pitcher, who never panics.
Halladay allowed the leadoff hitter to reach safely in the first four innings but always seems to turn it up a notch whenever faced with a challenge. With the bases loaded in the third with only one out Doc successfully retired the next two batters by striking out David Wright and forcing Ike Davis into a groundout. His ability to work out of jams allows him to pitch deep into games.
Even when Halladay does not have his best stuff he is still miles ahead of the competition. An off night for Mr. Cy Young usually results in a 7 or 8 hitter and maybe an earned run or two. Today the Mets were able to muster 6 hits off of Halladay with what Wright considered NOT his sharpest stuff.
With Thursday’s win over the Mets the Phillies improve to 5-1 on the year.
With spring concerns regarding Chase Utley’s knee, the loss of Jayson Werth, and an aging team it was clear that most of the baseball guru’s were not buying the 2011 Phillies offense. Through two series thus far the naysayers have been quieted with an unbelievable start for the Phillies bats.
Through six games the Phillies have the best offense in baseball. They are first in the Majors in batting AVG and OBP, fifth in total bases, second in hits, RBI’s and runs scored. The bats have been alive and well.
Wilson Valdez has done a more than adequate job filling in for the injured Chase Utley at second base and in the lineup. On Thursday Valdez was 4-4, with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI’s. Valdez set career highs in hits and runs scored, improving his AVG to .429 on the year. He is really stepping up, hitting the ball well and driving the ball into gaps. Willy has been doing all the little things and then some, anything he can bring to the table at this point is a positive thing.
"I'm pretty happy," said Valdez. "We're playing the game the right way. We're scoring runs and playing good defense, too. We have to go out and try to get wins and do the right things."
It also seems as if the Big Man Ryan Howard has found his groove early. Being able to bring his stance closer to the plate has resulted in a hot start for the Big Slugger. Howard is hitting .480 with 2 homeruns, 8 RBI’s, and 7 runs scored.
It is evident that the Phillies have a very capable lineup regardless of who is NOT there. The bats are firing on all cylinders and the numbers keep piling up. The Phillies will head to Atlanta on Friday to start a three game set with another division foe, the Atlanta Braves.
Cliff Lee will make his second start of the year vs. Tim Hudson Friday night at Turner Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 PM.