08/26/06 8:54 PM ET
Halladay's fine outing spoiled by Royals
Bats unable to provide support for right-hander in loss
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
No extra frames were necessary, though. The way Toronto's bats fell silent against Kansas City took care of that. As impressive as Halladay was, his complete-game performance went for naught in a 2-0 loss to the Royals at Rogers Centre.
"That's tough to swallow," Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "He was on his game today and did everything he was supposed to do. It's tough to win games when you don't score runs. We had our opportunities -- we just couldn't cash in."
Halladay did just about everything he could to make sure Toronto's offense had those opportunities. The right-hander matched his season-high strikeout total with seven, he limited the Royals to two runs -- the 15th time this year he's allowed two or fewer runs -- and he recorded 17 outs via ground balls.
The problem was that Halladay (16-4) made two mistakes -- two more than Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez made against the Blue Jays (68-61).
In the first inning, after getting two quick outs on four strikes, Halladay worked Kansas City third baseman Mark Teahen into an 0-2 count. The left-handed-hitting Teahen pulled the next offering from the former American League Cy Young Award winner down the right-field line and sent it bouncing off the foul pole to give the Royals (47-84) an early 1-0 lead.
"I thought the one to Teahen wasn't bad," Halladay said. "We were trying to go in and he got his hands inside of it and kind of got it in the jet stream."
Then in the second inning -- in the midst of a 34-pitch span in which Halladay threw just three balls -- Ryan Shealy sent a 1-1 pitch from the Jays pitcher deep to center field for a second solo blast. After that, Halladay went on to retire 12 batters in a row.
"The one to Shealy was obviously a mistake," Halladay said. "I would've liked to have that one back. I left it over the middle and he put a good swing on it. You never know when those [solo home runs] are going to hurt you."
Those two did. They robbed Halladay's bid to become the first Major League pitcher to reach 17 victories this season. The pair of long balls also spoiled what was one of his best outings of the year -- the first campaign he's pitched this far into the second half without suffering an injury since 2003, when he won the American League Cy Young Award.
Halladay's statistics this year -- a 3.12 ERA to go along with 191 innings, 111 strikeouts and four complete games -- have him in the running for the league's top pitching accolade once again.
"He's one of the best. Guys like that, they hold you together -- they hold the team together," Gibbons said. "They give you a chance to win every time they go out there, and that's a good feeling. Normally, we score. That tells you how good the other kid pitched. He shut down a pretty good offense."
The Blue Jays collected seven hits -- three by designated hitter Frank Catalanotto -- but no runners advanced beyond second base. Toronto's best scoring chance came in the first inning, when Reed Johnson and Catalanotto reached on consecutive singles. On Catalanotto's base hit, though, Johnson attempted to reach third base -- only to be thrown out by David DeJesus.
"He's aggressive," said Gibbons, referring to Johnson. "You can always look back and say, 'What if? What if?' We create a lot of havoc when we do those things."
From there on, Hernandez (4-8), who entered the game with a 7.50 ERA, continuously kept Toronto's hitters guessing en route to a complete game of his own.
"That's just one of those days where we were looking for the wrong pitch at the wrong time," Overbay said. "He had all of his pitches working, but I got changeups that I was looking for and still hit them off the end [of the bat]. He was doing something right today."
That's why neither Gibbons nor Halladay, who threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of the 31 batters he faced, would fault Toronto's hitters for the loss. Hernandez had too good of an afternoon for the Jays to blame the guys standing in the batter's box.
"Every time you turned and looked when we didn't swing, he was hitting that outside corner at will," Gibbons said. "I don't look at it as anything we didn't do. I thought [Hernandez] was great today -- that's the bottom line. This is the big leagues. I'm not about to take something away from him because of something we didn't do."
Such as giving Halladay a chance to win it in the 10th.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.