Roy Halladay can ease a lot of minds in Philadelphia on Sunday, as he tries to nail down career win No. 200 in the finale of a three- game series with the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark.
Halladay has been dreadful in losing his first two starts. After giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings in his season debut, Halladay was again roughed up on Monday versus the New York Mets, who reached the two-time Cy Young Award winner for seven runs in four innings.
"For a starting pitcher, it's important to get ahead and attack," said Halladay, who has pitched to a 14.73 ERA. "I had a lot of 2-0 counts, a lot of high pitch counts. There are a couple pitches I made that I felt were good pitches that got hit, but for the most part, I got behind and made pitches I didn't want to make. And that's where I was giving up the hits. That's the biggest thing. And that's the hardest thing to force. When you're really trying to force the ball to a spot instead of just letting it go there, the more you force it, the more it goes away from there."
Halladay, who has never dropped three straight starts to open a season, has faced the Marlins 14 times and is 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA against them. He's also beaten them three of the last four times he's faced them.
Miami, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Kevin Slowey, who has pitched to a respectable 2.19 ERA so far this season, but has nothing to show for it, as he has lost both times he has taken the hill.
Slowey fell to Atlanta on Monday, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings. However, for the second straight time he's pitched, the Marlins failed to score.
"When we don't score runs, it puts a lot of pressure on the pitching," manager Mike Redmond said. "If Kevin Slowey gives us seven innings, and gives up two runs, I'm pretty happy with that. I like our chances. We're going to win a lot of games with that."
On Saturday, former Phillie Placido Polanco scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the Marlins edged the Phillies, 2-1.
Polanco opened the ninth with a walk against Philadelphia reliever Phillippe Aumont (1-1), and Greg Dobbs, another ex-Phillie, followed by ripping a single that deflected off the glove of first baseman Kevin Frandsen to put men on the corners.
Aumont struck out Austin Kearns, but Polanco came home when Phillies second baseman Chase Utley couldn't cleanly field Chris Coghlan's two-hopper.
The Marlins picked up just their second win in their first 11 games and denied Philadelphia a chance to get above .500 for the first time this season.
"I think it's huge, just for the morale," Coghlan said. "We've lost a lot of tight games and our record has showed that."
Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels, who had been tagged for 13 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings over his first two outings this season, didn't allow a hit until Adeiny Hechavarria tripled to right center with two outs in the fifth.
"I'm still trying to get ahead of hitter early," Hamels said. "I was able to make an improvement there, but I wasn't where I was normally able to get that first pitch strike."
Despite Saturday's loss, the Phillies have won three of four and eight of their last 11 against the Marlins.