Halladay poetic, not perfect, but Phils' blueprint brings down Cards
Roy Halladay quoted Marc Antony, out of context, before facing the Cardinals
Lance Berkman tagged Halladay early, but he was perfect his final seven innings
The Phillies followed their plan to win the World Series as the bats came around
PHILADELPHIA -- Before the Phillies' 11-6 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of this NLDS, Roy Halladay was in a classical state of mind. He wore his warmup jacket draped over only one of his shoulders as he strode in from the bullpen before the top of the first inning, creating a toga effect. Hours earlier, St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa appealed to the gods for help in dealing with him ("Maybe it'll just rain when Roy pitches, and not when Kyle [Lohse] pitches," LaRussa said, when apprised of the forecast). And Halladay had this to say the previous afternoon, when asked about his considerable respect for the Cardinals: "I heard a quote a long time ago: I came here to bury Caesar, not praise him."
It is not every pitcher who spends part of his news conferences paraphrasing Shakespeare, and if Halladay seemed to miss the quotation's context (Marc Antony is speaking ironically; his praiseful eulogizing of Caesar inspires his fellow Romans to rise up against his assassins), he can be forgiven. Halladay is more a man of science than one of letters -- his nickname is "Doc," after all -- one who always strives, and who almost always succeeds, to mix his five pitches in such a precisely measured and controlled way as to produce the most favorable reaction.
Halladay didn't succeed at the game's beginning. The Cardinals came out with a Caesarean aggressiveness, working quickly to ensure that Halladay would not again open the playoffs with a no-hitter, as he did last October, versus the Reds. Leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal singled on Halladay's second pitch. On the ensuing 1-0 count, Furcal -- despite the fact that he had missed most of the week with an injured hamstring, despite the fact that he had stolen just nine bases this season and despite the fact that the Cardinals had not only stolen fewer bags than only one other team but made fewer attempts than all but two others -- took off for second, sliding in safely.
Three batters later, after a four-pitch walk to Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman demonstrated why it is no longer wise to issue four-pitch walks to Albert Pujols. He crushed the first pitch Halladay threw to him, a 94 mile-per-hour fastball that Halladay would derisively deem "thigh-high, center-cut," off the facade of the second deck in right field. The Cardinals had a 3-0 lead on Halladay.
"I couldn't think of a worse start, really," Halladay would say. "But you get to this point, you're not going to pack it in."
After the first batter of the second inning -- Skip Schumaker, who hit a ground ball single -- Halladay not only refrained from packing it in, but surpassed even the standard he set during his playoff debut against Cincinnati last October.
"He made a couple mistakes early," Berkman said. "After that, he didn't make any."
He retired 21 straight batters, every one he faced until he was pulled after the eighth, and his mix of pitches was expertly deployed. He threw each of the five in his arsenal -- a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a change-up and a curve -- between 14 and 26 times. He threw just under three quarters of his 105 pitches for strikes. In all, he struck out eight batters, and walked only one.
"We just could never put that [first] inning together again," said Pujols. All Halladay had to do was wait for his offense to catch up. "You can't take runs off the board," he explained.
For a while, it seemed as if even the modest lead Halladay had afforded the Cardinals might be enough for Kyle Lohse, the revitalized Cardinals starter. At first, Lohse displayed a Halladay-like efficiency, requiring 10 pitches or fewer to get through three of his first five innings and in that span allowed just two hits, a Chase Utley double and a Shane Victorino single, the only run coming directly as the result of a dropped foul pop by third baseman David Freese.
Then, in the sixth, Kyle Lohse turned into Kyle Lohse. Lohse would record only one out in the inning, but threw 23 pitches. The 16th of those was a 78 mph changeup to Ryan Howard, the third in a row he tried against the Phillies' cleanup hitter, which Howard hit and then stood and admired. The 23rd was another 78 mph changeup, which Lohse threw two batters later to Raul Ibanez. Ibanez hit it almost as far as Howard had into the rightfield seats. Halladay had kept his club in the game, and now they were up, 6-3, and wouldn't look back.
It was 11-3 when Halladay came out, a lead comfortable enough that no one worried when a Phillies reliever named Michael Stutes allowed three runs in the top of the ninth.
After a surprising beginning, the game had gone according to Philadelphia's usual blueprint: receive a dominant effort from one of its many aces, then wait for the offense to come around, as it usually does. It is from this blueprint that the Phillies will attempt to construct the World Series run that has been predicted for them since spring training.
And it is this blueprint that the Cardinals will have to tear up in tomorrow evening's Game 2. Should Chris Carpenter not outduel Cliff Lee, and should the Cardinals return to St. Louis in a 2-0 hole against a pitching staff of the Phillies' caliber, then the likely outcome is that they will end up being viewed not as a fallen Caesar, but as a footnote of history.