The Philadelphia Phillies’ offense shows no signs of slowing
down. That could be bad news for the Houston Astros, especially
when they have to step in the batter’s box against ace Roy
Off to its best start in 17 years, Philadelphia goes for the
three-game sweep Sunday at Minute Maid Park, where Halladay makes
his first career appearance against a Houston team off to its worst
start since 1983.
Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino each drove in
three runs and led Philadelphia’s 11-hit attack in a 9-6 win
Saturday. The Phillies, who are 4-1 for the first time since
opening 8-1 in 1993, are averaging 8.2 runs and batting .337.
Philadelphia has 10 or more hits in each of its first five
games, the first time the club has done that since 1926.
“It just seems like every time you come up, there’s a guy in
scoring position,” said Howard, who hit his third homer Saturday
and has two hits in each of the first five games. “It’s
With the Phillies leading the NL with 41 runs, Halladay could
get plenty of support in the series finale.
He did in his NL debut, Monday’s season-opening 11-1 victory at
Washington. Halladay allowed one run, six hits and struck out nine
over seven innings.
“It’s been fun for me,” said Halladay, who was acquired from the
Blue Jays in December and is one victory shy of 150. “Nothing
against Toronto, but it kind of gives you renewed energy coming
over here. It’s a team that wants to win and can win.”
The Astros do too, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Saturday’s loss dropped Houston to 0-5 for the first time since
an 0-9 start 27 years ago. A .223 team batting average has played a
major role in the slow start, but first-year manager Brad Mills
sees progress from his club after Jason Michaels and Hunter Pence
hit the team’s first two home runs of the season.
The five third-inning runs was one fewer than Houston had scored
in its first four games combined.
“It was a big step forward,” Mills said. “It was nice to see
them put together some solid at-bats again and start scoring some
Houston ace Roy Oswalt (0-1, 4.50 ERA) would like to see more of
that too. The right-hander looks to end the Astros’ skid in his
first start since Monday’s 5-2 season-opening loss to San
After getting an injection in his back to reduce pain from a
tight left hamstring, Oswalt yielded three runs and seven hits over
six innings in his eighth straight opening-day start. Both runs
Oswalt allowed during his 87-pitch outing crossed in the second
“In the second inning, I got out of sync a little bit,” he
said. “But I fell back in after that. I think I did OK. If you take
one inning out of the performance tonight, I think it was all
right. Once I got to the third, fourth and fifth, I felt a little
Oswalt is 5-1 with a 3.34 ERA in nine career starts versus
Philadelphia, but he has not enjoyed much success in his career
against Howard. The 2006 NL MVP is 8 for 19 with two homers
lifetime against Oswalt.
Philadelphia’s Placido Polanco has 10 hits in 21 career at-bats
versus Oswalt. The Phillies’ new third baseman has had multiple
hits every game this season, and is batting .542.