|Roy Halladay tips his cap after beating the Red Sox, possibly his last game in a Jays uniform. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press/Associated Press)|
A Sox killer strikes
Accurate Halladay finishes them off
TORONTO - As Dustin Pedroia was being asked about envisioning his team as the recipient of Roy Halladay in any potential trade, the Red Sox second baseman interrupted. “For him to get traded before the game?’’ Pedroia asked. “That would be nice.’’ By that point, though, it was too late.
Halladay had pitched well enough yesterday to leave other general managers salivating, and the Blue Jays with yet another brilliant outing to demonstrate the worth of the best chip currently up for sale. With the Red Sox in the visitor’s dugout, Halladay was still a Blue Jay and still his outstanding self in a 3-1 win that gave Toronto the series.
“Wow,’’ Boston manager Terry Francona said. “Kind of stand by the statement I made the other day. I thought they should have traded him the other day, and to a National League team. You don’t tip your hat during a game because you want to beat him. But that was pretty good pitching.’’
The Sox scored a run in the first, and had two men on in the third. Then, nothing. Of their final 21 batters, just one reached base with a hit, when David Ortiz singled in the sixth. No runner reached scoring position after the third. Halladay was on. Chances were gone.
In the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, the Sox led off each with a first-pitch out, by Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, and J.D. Drew, contributing to Halladay’s exceptionally low pitch count. He threw just 105 in a complete game, his fifth career against the Red Sox, and his fourth of the season.
“Typical,’’ Sox left fielder Jason Bay said. “Getting a lot of early swings. We’re a team that a lot of the time works counts and takes pitches. There’s a few [pitchers] that that’s not really conducive for. I think he’s one of them. Because you look at his strike-to-ball ratio. It’s ridiculous. You know he’s throwing strikes. Before the game I saw he had the 100-something punchouts  and like 17 walks.
“It’s one of those things where you’re not going to wait him out and work a walk. If you can get something early on, you’ve got a better chance of [putting it into play], then go ahead.’’
And the Sox did. After Drew struck out to open the game, Pedroia singled, and Youkilis doubled. Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Pe droia and moving Youkilis to third. Then Bay, with the chance to create a bit of separation early, necessary with Halladay on the mound, just missed a pitch. He hit it well, just not well enough, and it settled into Alex Rios’s glove on the warning track in center field.
“I hit it fairly well, but you’re not going to hit any cheapies out that way,’’ Bay said. “I thought maybe I got enough of it . . . I think it would have made obviously a big difference, especially with him throwing. In the end, it was just a fly out to center field.’’
Though Jon Lester pitched well enough to win, giving the Sox seven solid innings, allowing three runs on five hits, it wasn’t good enough against Halladay.
The loss could be directly attributed to a pair of walks in the second inning, two of four Lester would allow on the afternoon, something Francona attributed to a nine-day layoff between starts. After striking out Scott Rolen to start the inning, Lester walked Lyle Overbay and Rios, then got Kevin Millar to pop foul to catcher Varitek.
Rod Barajas then picked an excellent moment to end his 0-for-20 skid, hitting a double to left to drive in two runs. Though that was all Halladay would need, the Jays added a third run when Barajas hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Overbay in the sixth.
“I thought on both of them he could have gotten them both called a strike,’’ Varitek said of the crucial walks. “Then you get a ball off the fists that falls down the line. That scores those two runs. He just didn’t get the two borderline calls.’’
Those weren’t the only calls with which the Sox quibbled. There were a couple of conversations with plate umpire Eric Cooper, including one with Nick Green (and Francona) and one Mark Kotsay walked away from shaking his head.
Lester called the walks “one of those deals where the pitch could go either way and it went their way. That happens sometimes.’’
“I was sharp at times, and not so sharp at other times,’’ he said. “Had to shake off a little bit of rust and inconsistency in certain innings, and that was the ballgame. Two walks in the second comes back to bite you. It’s definitely not the best I’ve thrown the ball, but it’s not the worst I’ve thrown the ball.’’
And he knew it would be tough against Halladay.
“You can’t give them any extra opportunities,’’ he said. “I was able to keep the team in the ballgame, within striking distance. We can score two runs in two swings. It’s just one of those days. You hate to do it, but you tip your hat. He pitched better than me.’’
After the third inning, there was little the Red Sox could do. Halladay controlled them, never letting up, until Jacoby Ellsbury struck out swinging to end the game, as the 36,534 at Rogers Centre gave Halladay a roof-shaking ovation.
“He started using every part of the plate, cutting, sinking,’’ said Francona. “He carved us up pretty good.’’