It’s all about the pitching. The Philadelphia Phillies’ championship hopes rest on the arms of their vaunted pitching staff with vast amounts of money invested in the starting rotation, and the closer. On Opening Day, the team’s pitching staff proved to be worth every penny.
Roy Halladay got into trouble in the first inning, allowing the first two batters to reach base. The former Blue Jay bounced back quickly, and got Andrew McCutchen to ground into a double-play, allowing the ace to escape the first inning of the season without surrendering a run.
After the first inning, Halladay was in top form. He had the Pirate hitters completely baffled, and didn’t allow a single hit or walk for the rest of the day. The perennial 20-game winner kept his pitch count exceptionally low (just 92 pitches through eight innings), allowing him to pitch deep into the game. He didn’t allow another baserunner He did hit two batters (he hit only four all of last season).
It was a rough offensive showing for the Phillies’ and their patchwork lineup. They had several opportunities to put up some runs on Pittsburgh starter Erik Bedard early in the game, but failed to capitalize.
Freddy Galvis had a particularly poor debut at the plate. In the second inning, John Mayberry and Carlos Ruiz reached base with a pair of singles, but the rookie grounded into a double-play to end the threat. The team didn’t get another hit until the fifth inning (another Ruiz single), but Galvis quickly ended any hopes of a rally with yet another inning-ending double-play. The second baseman had one more opportunity to bat with a runner on in the ninth inning, but he struck out.
The offense finally scored their first run of the season in the seventh inning. Ty Wigginton got the ball rolling with a one-out single to centerfield. Mayberry followed the first baseman with his second hit out the day, a double that put Wigginton on third base.
Bedard and the Pirates had an opportunity to walk Ruiz (who had already recorded two singles) and go after the struggling Galvis (who had already hit into two double-plays), but they chose to pitch to Ruiz and the veteran catcher made them pay with an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
The top of the order wasn’t very successful. Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and Jimmy Rollins went a combined 1-10 on the day. Hunter Pence had a rough day as well, finishing the day 0-4. The former Astro had a chance to give the Phillies a little more breathing room in the eighth inning, but wasn’t able to come through, striking out with runners at first and second with two outs.
Jonathan Papelbon got his first chance to close a game as a Phillie, and came through with a 1-2-3 save. He began the inning with a strikeout of Alex Pressley, forced Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen to ground out to third to end the game.
The Phillies will have a day off on Friday before resuming the series with the Pirates on Saturday with Cliff Lee on the hill.