Blue Jays hit Halladay hard early
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)—Roy Halladay(notes) was hit hard early then bounced back with four straight strikeouts against his former team, but the Philadelphia Phillies fell 5-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Halladay, who spent his first 12 big league seasons with the Blue Jays before joining the Phillies in December, allowed four runs and five hits in the first inning. He then struck four straight and retired the final seven batters he faced.
Halladay’s final spring start was cut short at three innings to keep his arm fresh for the Phillies when they open the season in Washington on Monday.
“I’m extremely anxious,” the 32-year-old Halladay said of his upcoming Phillies debut. “I think the hard part of later on in spring is that you start anticipating what’s to come and you get a little stale. I’m looking forward to (starting the season). I feel prepared.”
On the same field where former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers(notes) exchanged handshakes and laughs with his old coaches and teammates six days earlier, Halladay was all business at Bright House Field with the Blue Jays in town. Instead of chatting with his old Toronto teammates in between at-bats or innings, he tried to get them out.
“I respect everyone over there,” Halladay said. “(But) you realize that there’s a time for that in the offseason. I wanted to keep my focus on that and pitch and focus on that as much as I could.”
The Blue Jays greeted their former, longtime ace with a flurry of hits. After Jose Bautista(notes) led off with a double to center, All-Star second baseman Aaron Hill(notes) drilled the first pitch he saw from Halladay into the left field bleachers for a two-run home run.
“I just wasn’t aggressive,” Halladay said. “I just guided the pitches and didn’t make an adjustment until later on.”
Halladay allowed four runs on five hits while striking out five and walking none.
“I don’t think he leaned on it,” Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Halladay’s rough start against his former team. “There is a little something there: ex-teammates, the end of spring training, you’re less apt to maybe stand somebody up or move somebody.
“I think he was feeling his way through it and then all of a sudden he said enough is enough and the last two innings he turned it up a little bit,” Dubee said.
Both of the Phillies’ runs came on solo drives off Toronto starter Brett Cecil(notes). Placido Polanco(notes) hit a one-out homer in the third inning and Ben Francisco(notes) hit his team-high fourth of the spring to lead off the fifth.
NOTES: Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz(notes) was out of the lineup after getting hit in the left arm with a pitch in a minor league game Tuesday. Manuel expects Ruiz to play in today’s spring finale. … Philadelphia reliever Ryan Madson(notes) took over for Halladay to begin the fourth inning and struck out two in a scoreless frame. Madson will serve as the Phillies closer with Brad Lidge(notes) sidelined until mid-to-late April. … Toronto manager Cito Gaston named Jason Frasor(notes) the Blue Jays closer prior to the game.