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Roy Halladay Continues to Own Opening Day

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It was only two hours after Roy Halladay  took the mound for his 10th consecutive opening day start, and as he dismissed Nate McClouth to end the 8th inning, his dominance was more apparent than ever.Roy Halladay photo: Jared Wickerham; Getty Images

After giving up two feeble hits to start off the home half of the first inning, the Phillies’ ace allowed only two of the next 26 batters to reach base (both of which did so by hitting the ball with bodily appendages rather than bats).

Halladay’s performance had to make anyone who questioned his spring training results feel pretty foolish, as he continues to be one of the most prepared and focused athletes in the sport.  

Thankfully, Charlie Manuel decided to take the ball from Halladay after his 92nd pitch, as the big right hander would have surely preferred to mow down the last three Pirates hitters that were due up in the ninth. Manuel claimed that Halladay was not stretched out enough to log a triple-digit pitch count, but he may also have recognized that Halladay’s importance could be greater than ever during what is expected to be a season of offensive frustration.

But the Phillies’ offensive woes are a topic for another day. Thursday was all about Halladay’s continued ownership of season openers.   

For the third straight year, Halladay toed the rubber for the Phillies’ first game of the season.  And for the third straight year, he was masterful.   He has now gone 2-0 with a no-decision in his three season openers as a Phillie.  

The combined stats from those three starts leave little doubt as to just how special the Halladay era in Philadelphia has been.

Halladay has thrown 21 innings in his three Phillies’ season openers.  He has surrendered two earned runs (an ERA of 0.85) while holding opposing batters to an anemic .169 average. His strikeout-to-walk ratio?  How about 23-to-2?

These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Halladay register 40 wins, 17 complete games and 5 shutouts in his first two seasons in Philly. They do, however, illustrate just how ready Halladay is from Day 1 (literally) of every season he begins. The notion of ironing out the kinks in the early going does not exist in the mind of the pitcher that Philadelphians should make a point of cherishing, even as they grumble about their team’s lack of offense.  

After all, yesterday’s two hour and fourteen minute win was a joy to watch.  It also proved that there will still be plenty of days when one or two runs can still win baseball games in this town.    

Or at least whenever Roy is scheduled to start.  

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Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net  

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Photos:
Pitching: Jared Wickerham; Getty Images
Dugout:  Pittsburgh SB Nation