Following an 18-inning contest that ran seven hours and six minutes and saw the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks use a combined 20 pitchers, both teams were short on sleep and pitching depth heading into Sunday's series finale.
The D'backs had just enough depth to ensure that they wouldn't have to delve into their starting rotation to finish off their 12-7 win.
On the other hand, the Phillies saw their starter in Saturday's game, Ethan Martin, go just two-thirds of an inning, so they had to rely on Tyler Cloyd in five of the nine extra innings. Cloyd pitched well, allowing no runs, though he did walk five batters.
However, Cloyd's walk count isn't the full concern here. Rather, it's that he was supposed to start in Sunday's game. He ended up starting, though it wasn't in the mold that was expected.
He couldn't start after throwing 72 pitches just hours earlier, so the Phillies had to do the unthinkable: bring back Roy Halladay even though he was scheduled for another rehab start in Double-A.
The move came with some concern, and rightfully so.
Although he hadn't been roughed up in his two previous rehab starts, Halladay wasn't exactly masterful either. In his second, more recent outing, Doc only surrendered two runs (one earned), but he also allowed seven hits and walked three batters.
Promoting Halladay off that kind of line wasn't ideal, but then again, neither was playing the longest game in team history the night before. With no better options, Halladay made a triumphant return to the majors and started for the Phillies the first time since May 5.
He wasn't lights-out, striking out just two hitters and walking the same amount. Only 55 of his 94 pitches were for strikes. Doc also gave up two earned runs, but would've surrendered four if not for Roger Bernadina's heroics at the center field wall that saved what would have been a game-tying two-run homer.
Halladay walked off the mound after six innings with a 9-2 lead behind him and received a standing ovation. Seeing Doc pitch the kind of game he did was encouraging, as was his fastball velocity, which was tweeted by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki:
Roy Halladay's afternoon is finished: 6 ip, 4 h, 2 r, 2 er, 2 k. He threw 94 pitches (55 strikes). Hit 89 mph with fastball.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) August 25, 2013
Despite Halladay's successful resurgence at the major league level, the Phillies should be cautious with their former ace. One start does not mean much in terms of performance, and though Doc's start did come against a team above .500, there are far better teams in the majors.
What may get lost in the lights of Doc's decent start was that the Phillies still don't think he is ready to return.
While Halladay felt he was ready to return to the bigs after his last rehab start at Low-A Lakewood, the front office didn't concur with their pitcher's self-analysis and would have maintained that opinion had they not run out of options.
Halladay should feel confident since the Phillies didn't view Adam Morgan or David Buchanan as superior options for a spot start despite their absence on the 40-man roster. In reality, though, Doc probably should have been given another chance in the minors before coming back to Philadelphia.
One start is great for Halladay, and fans should be thrilled to see him pitching again. But, unless Doc gets hurt again, he's here to stay in the majors, regardless of whether he's ready or not.
Nevertheless, Doc is back, and he should go to sleep well tonight.
But the Phillies should not.
I'm willing to give Halladay the benefit of the doubt for at least another start, but it isn't yet safe to say that Doc is truly back to his good old self. Give him some time and we'll have a complete report, but for now, take Halladay's success with a grain of salt and be prepared in case things blow up in the near future.
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