|MLB Preview: Phillies vs. Blue Jays July 2, 2011|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Saturday, 02 July 2011 01:21|
Phillies vs. Blue Jays Preview
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.
According to MLB odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Bodog have made the Phillies -150 money line favorites for Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. Current MLB Public Betting Information shows that 87% of more than 3,014 bets for this game have been placed on the Phillies -150.
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.Twitter and Facebook or Subscribe to Our News Feeds!