There was Halladay not having allowed a hit since the first inning, his pitch count at a reasonable 92, his competitive streak showing, his work ethic legendary. He’d achieved plenty in a Hall of Fame-qualified career, but never an opening-day complete game. Chances were he would never have more cooperative April weather or opponents’ bats than he did in PNC Park. It could have been another of his signature moments.
Instead, he was pulled from the game.
“I understand it at this point,” Halladay said. “But a couple weeks from now, I am going to fight him.”
Manuel, who enjoys a good fight himself, understood that. Yet he realized, too, that the Phillies had spent $50,000,058 for Papelbon and not a crisp fifty-dollar bill less, and that they expected him to save enough 1-0 games to help an ever-disintegrating offensive team win a pennant anyway.
“That (having Papelbon) did make it easier,” Manuel said. “It did.”
So out came Halladay and in came Papelbon, who would fire 10 pitches, nine for strikes, zero that weren’t as hard and as straight as he could throw a baseball. Together, two of the better pitchers of their generation would need only 2 hours and 14 minutes to make the Phillies 1-0 in a season in which every achievement should matter in a deeper National League East.