A tradition of Opening Day disappointment for the Philadelphia Phillies was nowhere to be found as perennial ace Roy Halladay took to the mound against the Washington Nationals Monday.
The former Cy Young Award winner dominated the lowly Nationals for most of the outing, with his only rough patch coming in the first inning. He allowed his only run in the first inning, then proceeded to throw six scoreless innings.
When it was all said and done for Doc Halladay, he had gone a strong seven innings, allowing one earned run while striking out nine. The newly acquired workhouse was only half of the show today, though, as the offense took no time in getting into mid-season form.
John Lannan kept the Phillies' sluggers of the board for three innings, but the game changed with one powerful swing in the fourth when Ryan Howard took him deep. It was a two-run shot that put the Phils up for good. They went on to plate three more runs in the inning, putting up a five sport for the inning.
They struck again in the top of the sixth when Jimmy Rollins tripled, scoring Carlos Ruiz. Rollins then scored on Placido Polanco's RBI single.
Polanco did the bulk of his damage, however, in the very next inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Polanco crushed the Jason Bergmann delivery into the Phillies' bullpen just beyond the left field wall for a grand slam, giving his team the 11-1 lead.
The score stood still for the remainder of the game as the Phils halted their Opening Day losing streak at four.
Granted, this was the Washington Nationals whom they were facing, but the Philadelphia Phillies opened their 2010 in impressive fashion. Here's five few things to take away from today's game.
1. Roy Halladay is exactly what we were told he would be
One start is in the books for Halladay, and boy was it impressive. Pardon the first inning and the 32-year-old righty made the Nationals looked like a minor-league squad (well, more so than they already do).
No, it wasn't exactly a lights-out, stellar performance; but it was as close as you can get. No Phillies' fan can be disappointed with their new ace's debut. Hopefully, Doc will be able to keep this up for the remainder of the season. There's little reason to believe he won't.
2. Placido Polanco fits in this lineup
Some analysts and fans alike questioned Charlie Manuel's decision to move Polanco to the second spot in the order and place Shane Victorino in the seven hole. For at least today, the Skipper looks to have made the right call, yet again.
While grand slams and six RBIs shouldn't be expected on a day-to-day basis, the team's new third basemen showed he can hit second in this lineup. Even once Polanco plays down more to his role of getting on base and playing small ball, his contribution at that position shouldn't drop off too much.
3. The Phillies' offense is still much like last year's
In 2009 with the Phils' offense, when it rained it poured. This was the case again this afternoon as the team exploded for innings of five, two and four runs on the day.
With the lineup having primarily stayed the same, except for the upgrade from Feliz to Polanco, we shouldn't be too surprised with today's efforts. Granted, 11 runs can't be expected every day. But at least we now know this team can still deliver those haymakers that knock opposing teams out of games.
4. The Nationals...yeah, they're still the Nationals
The Nats are a young, semi-talented squad who has improved from a year ago. While it may not have seemed so from today, their pitching is better than it was in '09. Yet, today showed us they are still the bottom-feeders of the National League East.
They have time to correct a few problems and make themselves better, but it's hard to see them going anywhere in 2010.
5. The Phillies...yeah, they're still the Phillies—just an ace better.
The offense is back from a year ago, the bullpen didn't give up a run in two innings of work, and they finally have a powerful Opening Day ace. And may I add, the best ace in the business.
Halladay and the offense reassured fans on this day that they won't disappoint in 2010. Fresh off their second straight World Series appearance, the team showed they're still hungry for more. That's what we love to see.
Let us not forget, this is just one game. Had we been in the dog days of summer, halfway through the season, very little analysis would be made on the game. Yet this is Opening Day, when first impressions for the season ahead are made. We have to analyze something now, don't we?
For the Phillies on this day, they made a few positive first impressions. But let's see how the next 20 games or so go before me start making some more serious conclusions for the year ahead.