Roy Halladay on Sunday will start his first major-league game since he game up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Marlins on May 5. (USA Today Images)
Well, let’s get right to the big news:
Less than 3 1/2 months after having shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay is headed back to the Phillies’ rotation.
Halladay, who had been scheduled to make a minor-league rehab start for Double A Reading on Sunday, has been summoned back to Philadelphia to start for the big club Sunday afternoon against Arizona.
The change in plans was necessitated by the events of Saturday night/Sunday morning. The Phillies went 18 innings in losing 12-7 to Arizona (see Instant Replay). The Phils sent nine pitchers and two position players to the mound in the marathon. One of the pitchers was Tyler Cloyd, who had been scheduled to start Sunday. Cloyd pitched five shutout innings and threw 90 pitches, putting him out of commission for several days.
Cloyd headed to the bullpen in the 11th inning. By that time, the Phillies’ dugout had already been in touch with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to see if using Halladay on Sunday was a possibility. Amaro approved the idea and got in touch with Halladay. The pitcher, who had already traveled to Reading, was on board with the idea. Cloyd entered the game in 12th inning.
It will be interesting to see how Halladay fares on Sunday. He was not sharp in two minor-league rehab starts, including Tuesday night at Single A Lakewood. He allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings in the game. He walked three and struck out four. His fastball averaged just 87 mph and his command was not good. In short, Halladay has not shown himself to be ready to return, but necessity calls.
If there’s one plus in Halladay’s recent minor-league work, it’s that he has been stretched out. He threw 90 pitches Tuesday night and 87 in his previous start, so he could go deep into the game – provided he doesn’t get knocked all over the lot.
“I expect him to give us what he has,” Sandberg said. “We believe he’s our best option.”
Sandberg said the team would also add a reliever for Sunday’s game. The addition of Halladay and the reliever means two players will have to be subtracted from the active roster before the game. That won’t be pleasant news for two players, especially after playing until 2:12 a.m. Sunday.
The time of game was seven hours, six minutes, the longest in Phillies history. The teams combined to use 20 pitchers, tying a major-league record.
The game started with right-hander Ethan Martin not making it out of the first inning. More than six hours later, after the Phils fought back from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game at 7-7 on Darin Ruf’s two-run homer in the eighth, and after a handful of relievers and Cloyd had kept the game close, Sandberg polled the dugout to see which position players had pitching experience. Casper Wells, who had started in rightfield, pitched in high school and college and even had a big-league inning under his belt for the White Sox in a blowout earlier this season.
Out of arms, Sandberg went to Wells in the 18th. The right-hander started off well. He got two quick outs and hit 91 on the radar gun – Halladay would love that kind of velo Sunday – before a two-out walk to Tony Campana and an RBI double by Adam Eaton kicked off a five-run rally for the Diamondbacks. Eventually, reserve infielder John McDonald had to come in from leftfield and put out the fire.
Trevor Cahill, another starting pitcher pressed into service, closed out the Phils in the bottom of the 18th. He pitched four shutout innings for the win.
It was a difficult night for Wells. He went 0 for 7 with four strikeouts at the plate and got the loss on the mound.
“This is an unforgiving game,” McDonald said, sympathetically.
Wells, 1 for 23 with eight strikeouts in his brief time with the Phillies, was a good sport after the game.
“It was quite a night,” he said with a sigh. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Wells said he took his pitching assignment seriously.
“I was trying to compete,” he said. “I was trying to throw strikes, do everything I can to help the team.”
The crowd, originally 34,637, had thinned to bare bones by the time Wells took the mound. The fans chanted, “Let’s go, Casper! … Let’s go, Casper!” at 2 in the morning.
It was pretty surreal.
“Surreal is a good word for the whole night, in general,” Wells said.
The whole night. The whole morning. And maybe even the whole afternoon.
Ready or not, here comes Doc.