The Roy Halladay of yesteryear made an appearance at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Wednesday, harkening us all back to the days of yore.
You know, 2011, when the Phillies won 102 games and didn’t fall all over themselves on a nightly basis.
Halladay (9-7) pitched into the eighth inning against the second best team in the National League, giving up just one earned run on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Reds. And for the first time in a long while, Roy looked something resembling the Halladay of old.
Boy, was that a sight for sore eyes.
And while Halladay’s velocity still isn’t where it used to be, the results were. Which made Charlie Manuel giddy as a schoolgirl after the game.
“The stronger his arm gets, he’ll get more velocity,” Manuel said. “And when he does, that’s going to make him tough. When he starts feeling right and gets his mechanics right, that will help him, too. When you talk to him, he just isn’t quite there yet, but he’s definitely getting there.”
Halladay has also noticed some improvement in the last half-dozen starts or so.
“I don’t feel like my stuff is tailing off in the sixth and seventh inning,” he said. “I feel loose and strong.”
Another player who apparently feels loose and strong is Phils’ catcher Erik Kratz, who crushed another homer on Wednesday, a three-run shot in the second that gave the Phils an early 4-0 lead.
He’s like Chris Coste, just a whole lot better.
Since Carlos Ruiz went on the disabled list, Kratz has been the everyday catcher and has taken advantage of every opportunity. He now has nine HRs and 24 RBIs in 108 at bats. Project that to a 500 at bat season, and Kratz would be on pace for 41.6 HRs.
Clearly, Kratz is not a 40 HR hitter. He’s really not even a viable starting catcher in the Major Leagues. He’s simply a guy who is riding an incredible hot streak and proving that he is more than capable of being Ruiz’ back-up next year, with the ability to fill in for long stretches if Ruiz gets hurt.
Put simply, he’s worth about 50 Brian Schneiders.
And in some more good news, Chase Utley continues to show promising power, blasting a homer to dead center field in the third inning, his 10th of the year in just 251 plate appearances. Last year, he hit just 11 in 454 PAs.
This year is better.
With the win, the Phils finished off a decent road trip, winning two of three in Atlanta and Cincinnati. The only losses were Sunday’s heartbreaker at the hands of Chipper Jones and Tuesday night’s snow job by the worst umpiring crew in modern baseball history. The Phillies have now won 12 of their last 18 games.
And it all starts, as it usually does, with the starting pitching. On Wednesday, it was Roy Halladay reminding everyone of the good old days, and offering hope that there may some good new days ahead too.
Where It All Went Right
Everybody Kratz your hands! When Erik Kratz hit a three-run homer off the Reds’ Mike Leake, giving Halladay an early 4-0 lead, you got the sense things were going to go their way. Halladay has been shaky this year, and last time out had a real hard time dealing with the Atlanta heat. Last year, Roy had to leave a game in Chicago early due to heat exhaustion. So it was great to see the Phillies put some early runs on the board for Halladay on Wednesday.
Most Attractive Play
This sweet J-Roll-to-Utley-to-Howard double play that reminded everyone watching of the halcyon days of 2008 and the slick DP against the Nats that clinched the division on the second-to-last day of the season. There was a time these three guys made plays like this once or twice a week. Nostalgia is fun.
Roy Halladay, who lowered his ERA to 3.87 against one of the best offenses in the National League.
The umpires, who made an absolute mess of this series. Last night,they incorrectly ruled Cincinnati center fielder Drew Stubbs caught a ball that he clearly trapped. The Phils had a runner doubled off second in the confusion and were run out of a big inning. It was a call that went a long way to costing them the game.
On Wednesday, the umpires had trouble calling balls and strikes.
I’m not saying there was a problem with the strike zone. No, they got confused as to the number of balls and strikes that had been called during a Ryan Howard at bat in the third inning. It took four umpires TWO FULL MINUTES to figure out what the count was. I thought the replacement refs were being used by the NFL, not MLB? I must have gotten my wires crossed somewhere.