Phillies-Blue Jays Preview

Roy Halladay insists his approach won’t change for his first

start in Toronto not wearing a Blue Jays uniform.

Looking for a sixth consecutive victory Saturday afternoon,

Halladay takes the mound at Rogers Centre for the first time since

the Blue Jays traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to last

season.

Halladay (10-3, 2.40 ERA) won the 2003 Cy Young Award and went

148-76 with a 3.43 ERA in 12 seasons for the Blue Jays. He ranks

among the team leaders in strikeouts (1,495), complete games (49)

and shutouts (15), but is trying not to make a big deal of his

return.

“I feel like it’s any other start,” Halladay told the Phillies’

official website. “It’s been long enough for me where that’s not

really something that’s in the forefront. Obviously it’s the first

time back, but I don’t really anticipate anything different than

any other road start.”

That likely won’t be the case for Toronto fans, who gave the

34-year-old right-hander a standing ovation when he took the lineup

card to home plate prior to the Phillies’ 7-6 win Friday.

“I don’t think Blue Jays fans are going to cheer for Doc to do

well against us,” former teammate John McDonald told the Blue Jays’

official website. “I think they’re going to cheer for Doc to show

him how much they appreciate what he has done for the baseball

franchise here.”

In his first start against the Blue Jays, Halladay allowed six

hits in seven innings of a 9-0 win at Citizens Bank Park last

June.

He recorded his fifth complete game of the season and improved

to 31-13 with a 2.43 ERA in 50 starts for the Phillies (52-31)

after allowing a run and eight hits in a 3-1 victory over Oakland

on Sunday. Halladay is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA in eight starts since

losing at Atlanta on May 15.

“It’s always fun to watch him pitch,” teammate Ryan Howard

said.

Howard hit a go-ahead two-run single in the ninth Friday to help

the Phillies improve to 35-3 when scoring at least four runs.

“This is what we’re capable of doing,” Howard said. “As long as

you can outscore your opponent, that’s the name of the game. It

doesn’t matter how many runs you get.”

Howard, 4 for 8 with four RBIs in his last two games, is batting

.360 with six RBIs over his last six versus Toronto. He’s 2 for 7

against Toronto’s Carlos Villanueva (5-1, 3.15), who hopes to use

the hype surrounding Halladay’s return to his advantage.

“I’m excited because I know the atmosphere is going to be a lot

better here,” Villanueva said. “I never played with Halladay, but I

respect who he is as a pitcher because he is a master at what he

does.

“It will make me better, and I know I’ll have to be at my best,

because on a good day for him he’s not going to give up much. I

understand that, it’s a challenge and I like that.”

Villanueva allowed two runs in six innings of a 6-3 win at St.

Louis on Saturday to improve to 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA in seven

starts. The right-hander is 0-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 relief

outings versus Philadelphia.

Toronto’s Jose Bautista homered for the 25th time Friday and is

batting .367 with four home runs and eight RBIs in his last nine

games. He’s 1 for 3 with a double versus Halladay.

The Blue Jays (40-43), who have lost four of five, could be

without shortstop Yunel Escobar after he was hit on the left hand

by a pitch Friday. He’s 10 for 20 with a homer and three RBIs over

the last six games.