Even the great ones have a rough outing every so often, and for Halladay, that came in an ugly 15-13 loss to the Braves. The 12-hit, eight-earned run effort over 5 1/3 innings was Halladay’s worst outing in five seasons, and after the game he left the team to attend to a family matter, according to the team’s PR staff.
“It was just a weird game all the way around,” said Braves catcher Brian McCann, whose fifth-inning grand slam off Halladay brought Atlanta all the way back from a 6-0 deficit. “Stuff you’ve never seen happen.”
Halladay is expected to rejoin the team when the Phillies begin a weekend series at the first-place Washington Nationals on Friday night.
The Phillies insist Halladay is healthy, and despite a modest 3-2 record, the team’s right-handed ace had looked dominant at times this spring. He brought a 1.95 ERA into Wednesday’s game and left with a 3.40 mark, but the firsts Halladay has recorded in recent weeks are not the variety that will one-day end up on his plaque in Cooperstown.
“At times it doesn’t seem like his stuff is accelerating through the hitting zone,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “At times it does.”
For now, this looks like a one-start aberration. And for a pitcher whose skill and smarts earned him the nickname ‘Doc’ during his days in Toronto, two days to clear the mind might prove to be the perfect remedy.
Charlie Manuel and the Phillies have to hope so. With Cliff Lee still recovering from an oblique strain and Kyle Kendrick struggling to fill the void, Philadelphia needs Halladay’s stability at the front of the rotation.
Few would have guessed Joe Blanton and Vance Worley would be leading the way in wins (3) and ERA (1.97), respectively, in a rotation that includes Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels. But until Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return — if they do — to bring more pop to the order, pitching will continue to be the path to success in Philadelphia.
Halladay’s next scheduled start is Monday at home against the Mets.
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