Times have changed since last visit to Philly
When Roy Halladay tossed his five-hit shutout against the Braves on April 21, he was the odds-on-favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. When the Braves left Philadelphia on May 9, they were five games below .500 (13-18) and six games behind a Phillies club that seemed destined to win a fourth consecutive NL East crown.
Oh, how times have changed.
When Halladay takes the mound tonight, he’ll be aiming to halt his recent woes and close the gap on the first-place Braves, who are five games in front of the injury-depleted Phillies in the NL East race.
The Phillies, who will be without Chase Utley until at least the latter part of August, have won just 14 of the 31 games they’ve played since coming to Atlanta on May 31 with a half-game lead over the Braves.
Since tossing his perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, Halladay has gone 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .302 against him. During his last outing, he recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings and held the Reds scoreless through five innings.
Then while allowing four runs in the next three innings, Halladay saw Joey Votto and Jay Bruce prolong his recent longball woes. Seven of the 10 homers surrendered by the Phillies right-hander have been hit during his past four starts. He allowed just three in his first 13 starts of the season.
Troy Glaus, who is one of the four current Braves who has one career homer against Halladay, will rest his sore left knee again tonight. But it appears he could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday.
Nate McLouth will be re-examined within the next two days and if it appears he is no longer bothered by post-concussion symptoms, he could be cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment later this week.
McLouth was able to complete batting practice outdoors without any problem the past couple of days. Hopefully, this was a sign that he is recovering. But it also could have been a product of the less-humid conditions that were in Atlanta this weekend.
One of the reasons the Braves signed Willy Taveras to a Minor League deal was to provide some insurance in case McLouth isn’t able to return and prove to be more productive than he was before he suffered the concussion after colliding with Jason Heyward.
But for now, Gregor Blanco is providing reason to believe he can serve as a dependable option in center field. The speedy outfielder has always been able to cover a lot of ground. But this year, he seems to be taking better routes and cutting down on the mental errors that he displayed in the past.
Oh yeah, Blanco also hit .450 in the six games he played last week.
Heading down to the clubhouse. I’ll let you know if Omar Infante heads over to the Phillies dugout to give Charlie Manuel a big hug.