2 unique pitching matchups await Phillies at Wrigley Field vs. Cubs

2 unique pitching matchups await Phillies at Wrigley Field vs. Cubs

As the Phillies begin a seven-game road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, two interesting pitching matchups await. 

In tonight’s series opener at Wrigley Field, former Cub Jake Arrieta opposes the pitcher his ex-team chose to pay instead of him: Yu Darvish. 

In Game 3 of the series, left-hander Cole Irvin is opposed by left-hander Cole Hamels in Hamels’ first-ever start against his former team. The Phillies are the lone MLB team Hamels has never faced. 

The Arrieta-Darvish comparison has been an interesting one. Neither pitcher has lived up to the price tag so far. 

In 40 starts as a Phillie, Arrieta is 14-15 with a 3.98 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. His ERA has been 7 percent better than the league average over that span. The Phils did not expect they were getting the Cy Young version of Arrieta, but expectations were certainly higher than an ERA barely better than 4.00 for the ninth-highest paid pitcher of all-time in annual salary. 

What Arrieta has given the Phillies that Darvish has not given the Cubs, though, is durability and consistency. Arrieta has allowed three runs or fewer in 23 of those 40 starts as a Phillie, keeping them in the game more often than not. The same cannot be said of Darvish, who has been limited to just 17 starts as a Cub and has a 5.05 ERA with them. 

Darvish missed most of last season because of injuries to his triceps and elbow. He pitched just 40 innings. 

This season, Darvish has struggled mightily to throw strikes. He’s walked 33 batters in 42 innings and completed six innings once in his nine starts. He’s still racking up the strikeouts, though, and is coming off a season-high 11 against the Reds. The previous two games, he walked 11. 

There is a lot of contract left for Darvish, but so far it’s played out like a major mistake for the Cubs, who did almost no spending this past offseason because of the big-money deals already on the books and the dough that will soon need to go to Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and eventually Willson Contreras. 

Between Darvish and Jason Heyward, the Cubs committed a total of $310 million and an average of $44 million per year. Those two contracts are two major examples of why free agents are being paid differently these days.

Last June when the Phillies went to Wrigley Field, Arrieta did not pitch. He didn’t face the Cubs at home, either, so this will be the first matchup since his departure. The best days of Arrieta’s career came in Chicago and he’s still beloved there for the no-hitters, the Cy Young season and World Series ring. And he doesn’t hold any ill will toward the Cubs for making the choice they made last winter. 

"I knew that there was always an opportunity to come back here until I signed with another team," Arrieta said in the visiting dugout at Wrigley last summer. "It was a very chaotic offseason for free agents, not only myself but everybody involved. When Theo (Epstein) did call, it seemed like it could've been a possibility but just the way it all went down, I was leaning more and more to the side of probably not returning to Chicago. 

"Would it have been great if I signed here? Yes. Am I happy with the way things worked out ultimately signing with the Phillies? Absolutely."

Tonight begins an important series of starts for Arrieta, whose next three opponents will be the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals, three of the best offenses in the National League. Despite the degree of difficulty, these are the kinds of games a contending team hopes to get quality starts from its $75 million man.

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Halladay Tosses Second No-Hitter in Playoff History

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Halladay Tosses Second No-Hitter in Playoff History

Originally published October 7, 2010

Can you pitch the game of your life twice in the same season?

Oh, yes, you can.

Just ask Roy Halladay. He did it Wednesday night.

Just ask Jimmy Rollins. He witnessed it.

“It was just great,” Rollins said. “Simple and classy. That was awesome.”

Rollins has seen some spectacular Phillies postseason moments the last two years. Heck, he’s authored some of them. Wednesday night he lived through another one as Halladay, in a performance seemingly plucked from the pages of a fairy tale, took the mound for his first postseason game ever and pitched a no-hitter to lead the Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Think about all of this for a second. Halladay came to Philadelphia because he believed it was the place where he could experience postseason play after a career full of empty Octobers in Toronto. In his first playoff start, on the night he had long dreamed of, he did something that had only been done once before in more than a century of postseason play. Before Halladay’s 104-pitch gem against the Reds, Don Larsen had been the only other pitcher to toss a no-hitter in postseason play when he delivered a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.

Halladay was not quite perfect. He walked one batter, Jay Bruce, on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth inning. But Halladay knows what perfection feels like. His perfect game on May 29 at Florida was the season’s signature moment.

Before all this happened, of course.

“It’s a little bit surreal to know some of that stuff,” said Halladay, referring to the historical aspect of his accomplishment. “This was one of those special things that you’ll always remember.”

Every Phillies fan will remember it, the 46,411 who packed Citizens Bank Park, and the countless others who watched it at home on television.

They will remember every one of Halladay’s eight strikeouts, the two excellent defensive plays that Rollins made at shortstop, and the nice catch that Jayson Werth made on the Reds’ only hard-hit ball in rightfield.

They will remember how Halladay owned Cincinnati hitters, how he attacked them with the intensity of a pit bull, how he threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 28 batters, a ratio that allowed him to control the Reds’at-bats and get their hitters to chase his darting pitches, even when they were purposely thrown wide of the strike zone.

They will even remember how Halladay had an RBI single in the second inning, before anyone started thinking no-hitter.

There were more memorable vignettes, of course.

The final out will always remain indelible. Reds leadoff man Brandon Phillips hit a tapper out in front of home plate. As the ball skittered on the grass, it struck Phillips’ bat. Catcher Carlos Ruiz looked like a frantic Easter egg hunter as he reached around the bat, grasped the ball and, from his knees, threw around the base runner to first baseman Ryan Howard to end the game.

“It looked like Carlos was playing Twister,” Howard said afterward. “He made a great throw from his knees.”

When the out was registered, Ruiz hopped into Halladay’s arms, a freeze-frame moment reminiscent of Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms in 1956.

Within seconds, Halladay and Ruiz were engulfed by jubilant teammates. Howard said he wasn’t sure if it was cool to celebrate a Game 1 win in a playoff series, but, what the heck, this was special.

“Pretty solid pickup, I’d say,” Howard deadpanned, referring to Halladay’s acquisition in December.

“That’s what I call good managing,” Phils skipper Charlie Manuel joked.

Phillies fans were thrilled when the team acquired Halladay. They weren’t all that happy when 2009 postseason hero Cliff Lee was traded away in an accompanying deal.

As Phillies players mobbed Halladay at the last out Wednesday night, Phillies officials, according to front-office man Dallas Green, “went crazy” up in the team’s executive box.

“We forgot about Cliff Lee,” said Green, who, as a young Yankees farmhand, was at Yankee Stadium as a spectator the day Larsen threw his perfecto.

The Phillies scored four runs in the first two innings, running Cincinnati starter Edinson Volquez from the game. After Halladay contributed to the Phils’ three-run rally in the second, he took the mound in the top of third and iced the Reds on nine pitches, eight of which were strikes. Halladay threw his entire arsenal at the NL’s best hitting team. He featured a power sinker, a devastating cutter, a dazzling changeup and a curveball that Reds hitters, often behind in the count, couldn’t lay off.

So how did Halladay’s stuff compare to the perfect game in Miami?

“Better,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “Way better. Better movement. Better command.”

Halladay credited Ruiz for calling a heads-up game. He only shook off Ruiz once.

“I know I always go back to it, but Ruiz has done a great job all year recognizing what’s working, what’s effective, and calling it,” Halladay said. “We were aggressive and made good pitches.”

The Reds couldn’t argue that.

“In a situation like that, you’re almost helpless because he was dealing,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “Good pitching will beat good hitting and that was great pitching tonight.”

Joey Votto, the Reds’ MVP candidate, concurred.

“I hate to use hyperbole, but he’s an ace among aces,” Votto said.

Lost in all the excitement created by Halladay’s masterpiece was the even more important fact that the Phils are up one game to none in a short, best-of-five playoff series. They are two wins away from returning to the NL Championship Series for the third time in as many years.

“The best part of this is the playoffs take priority and it’s pretty neat for me to go out and win a game like that knowing there’s more to come for us and more to accomplish,” Halladay said. “So that makes it a lot of fun.”

Things might not be fun for the Reds. They face Roy Oswalt in Game 2 on Friday. He’s only 23-3 in his career against Cincinnati.

As Roy Halladay enters baseball’s Hall of Fame, we look back at a special time

As Roy Halladay enters baseball’s Hall of Fame, we look back at a special time

Though he spent just four of his 16 major league seasons in Philadelphia, Roy Halladay loved his time with the Phillies. He loved playing for a winner, loved the passion of the fans, loved playing in a ballpark filled with emotion and energy.

Halladay once told the story of sitting in the dugout at Citizens Bank Park between innings of a start during his first season with the Phils in 2010. The team was on its way to a fourth straight National League East title and Halladay on his way to his first postseason (not the mention a Cy Young Award). The pitcher looked around the sold-out stadium in awe and thought …

“I can't believe this is happening to me.”

Halladay never got the World Series title he came to Philadelphia looking for, but he pitched in two postseasons, authored a perfect game and an playoff no-hitter, and impressed fans and teammates with his amazing work ethic and dedication.

The great pitcher died tragically in a small plane crash in November 2017. He was just 40.

He remains tied to Philadelphia and the Phillies organization. He was inducted onto the Phillies’ Wall of Fame last summer and on Sunday will be officially enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, along with Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez.

Halladay spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, but his time in Philadelphia was so special that his family asked that he go into the Hall of Fame with no particular team logo on his cap. The Hall of Fame granted that wish.

As he officially becomes a member of Baseball Royalty on Sunday, we look back at some of the moments that defined and highlighted Roy Halladay’s time in Philadelphia.

Halladay, Phillies rout Nationals in season opener

Halladay tosses second no-hitter in playoff history

Charlie Manuel keeps his promise to Roy Halladay's son

Through the tears, the Halladay family finds joy in Cooperstown honor

Remembering what mattered most to Roy Halladay

A celebration of life: Thank you Roy Halladay

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