Halladay struck out a career-high 14 to win his major league-leading ninth game, Alex Rios(notes) backed him with a home run and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Now 32 and in his 12th major league season, Halladay said he’s becoming “more crafty.”
“We’re doing different things now, kind of throwing everything to both sides which at times will give you a lot more takes and swings and misses,” Halladay said. “That probably has more to do with it than anything.
“Stuff-wise I still feel good but being able to do different things and kind of change the way you pitch is essential if you’re going to stay around a long time,” Halladay added.
Halladay (9-1) threw his second complete game of the season, allowing four runs, no walks and seven hits to win his sixth straight decision. Working on an extra day of rest, he threw a career-high 133 pitches.
“He was a good as we’ve seen a pitcher in years, on both sides of the plate with good movement,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
“He was a doctor today,” Hunter said. “You have got to give it to him. He had surgery on all of us.”
Halladay faced just one batter over the minimum through six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh, when Bobby Abreu(notes) and Vladimir Guerrero(notes) led off with singles. After Halladay loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk to Hunter, Kendry Morales(notes) followed with an RBI single. Guerrero scored on a wild pitch before Maicer Izturis(notes) and Mike Napoli(notes) both hit sacrifice flies.
“Then he just turned off the faucet again and finished the game,” Scioscia said. “He does so many things well out there on mound and finished his own ball game. That was impressive.”
“No one says it, you just kind of get that feeling as a pitcher,” Saunders said. “You know, ‘I’m facing Roy Halladay today, if I give up a run I might lose.’ It puts added pressure on me and added pressure on the team to do whatever they can and for me to do whatever I can.”
Jose Bautista(notes) gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with an RBI triple in the second, and the Blue Jays added two more in the third against Saunders (6-4). Rios led off with his seventh homer and, two outs later, Scott Rolen(notes) doubled and scored on Kevin Millar’s(notes) single.
The Blue Jays chased Saunders with a three-run sixth. Adam Lind(notes) singled, stole second and scored when Gary Matthews misplayed Scott Rolen’s sharp single to left, with Rolen taking second on the play. Millar hit an RBI double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Rod Barajas’(notes) single.
Saunders, who has lost three of his past four starts, allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. He walked none and struck out four.
Scutaro was hitless in four at-bats, ending his streak of seven straight multi-hit games. ^Notes: Following the game, Toronto optioned RHP Brian Wolfe(notes) to Triple-A Las Vegas and promoted RHP Dirk Hayhurst(notes) from Triple-A. … It was the seventh 10 strikeout game of Halladay’s career. … Angels RHP Kelvim Escobar(notes) (shoulder) pitched five innings for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday and will throw a bullpen in Toronto on Wednesday. If that goes well, Escobar will start for the Angels in Detroit on Saturday, his first appearance since 2007.