Roy Halladay was all over the place again. He allowed seven earned in a 7-2 Phillies loss to the Mets, but the takeaway was more than just the result, or the resulting 14.73 ERA and .353 opponents' batting average. It was the way Doc put runners on until Chad Durbin let the last two score in the fifth.
Halladay walked three for the second straight start. After a 1-2-3 first, he allowed a double to Marlon Byrd, hit Lucas Duda and was taken out to right by John Buck for a three-run homer.
Halladay labored -- again. He threw 28 pitches in the second inning. He threw 35 in the third, when the Mets tacked on a run. Already having thrown 92 pitches through four, his night came to a merciful end in the fifth when he was greeted by a deep ground-rule double over Ben Revere's left shoulder, a wild pitch and a David Wright RBI single.
It was another notch in the wrong column for the Phils, who are 2-5. But despite being the third straight series-opening loss, the takeaway was Halladay's inability to throw consistent strikes.
He couldn't locate in his final spring training start or his season debut in Atlanta. He threw exactly 40 balls for the second straight start. Just 58% of his pitches have been strikes this year. For his career the number's 67%.
What is the root of a problem?
Halladay's simply getting hit on pitches in the zone the way he wasn't from 2001-11. He's already been taken deep three times, so to stay out of the plate he's had to be more fine. And his sinker and cutter aren't effective unless they have sharp break. So the pitches are breaking out of the zone. And players are laying off and getting ahead in the count. Halladay threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of 22 batters.
Where he goes from here ... really, who knows? As we said at the outset of the season, the fear is that Halladay is simply a start-to-start pitcher. Through his first two starts -- and it goes deeper into the spring -- he's been unable to put together even a quality performance.
It's not just tough to watch as a Phillies fan, it's tough to watch for anyone who admires precision and professionalism.
4-for-30. Runners in scoring position in three of nine innings, and only one hit in such situations. Ryan Howard and Laynce Nix struck out twice apiece. In 20.1 career innings against the Phillies, Matt Harvey's allowed 17 baserunners, four runs and struck out 22.
Rough night all around.
Oswalt says he'd return
Roy Oswalt tweeted: "I would love to come back to Philly , loved my time there , amazing fans."
After leaving the Phils in 2011, Oswalt went unsigned until May 29 of the following season, then had a 5.80 ERA in 59 innings for the Rangers. He's 35, a few months older than Halladay and a year older than Cliff Lee.
We'll look at it deeper tomorrow.
Something you need to see
The called third strike that ended the game in Texas. Ninth inning, full count on Ben Zobrist, Rays down one, and ... ???????????????