For a while this afternoon, the Phillies looked to be in great shape. Dane Sardinha provided a 2-out, 3-run home run in the 4th inning -- the second 3-run homer in as many days from a Phils backup catcher -- and Roy Halladay was on cruise control, needing just 61 pitches through 5 innings to stifle the Reds. More than anything, it looked like an early season Doc specialty: Halladay had great command of his pitches, induced weak contact from the Reds hitters, and worked at a brisk pace. Taking 2 out of 3 from the NL Central leading Reds -- on the heels of Chase Utley and Placido Polanco heading to the DL, no less -- looked like a real possibility.
Then the Reds showed why they've been the surprise of the National League this season. Joey Votto ripped a solo home run in the 6th on a good pitch down and in, his teammates strung together three hits in the bottom of the 7th to plate another run (with a little help from a Brandon Phillips "double" that Jayson Werth pulled up on as he neared the right field wall), and Halladay made perhaps his only real poor pitch of the afternoon to Jay Bruce in the bottom of the 8th, as the former top prospect launched a homer to right to plate Jonny Gomes and give the Reds a 4-3 lead. Arthur Rhodes atoned for his Tuesday night meltdown by retiring the Phillies in order in the 8th, and a Ross Gload single was all the Phillies had to show for their efforts in the 9th inning.
It's tough to blame the result on Halladay, as the offense delivered little against Reds starter Aaron Harang, who seemed vulnerable from the get go. The club's 3 through 6 hitters went just 2-for-16 on the day with 7 strikeouts, with Wilson Valdez (2-for-4) delivering the same number of hits.
But just how unlucky was Halladay? He seemed to have command of everything all afternoon, punching out 10 and walking 0, but for the second outing in a row, fell victim to the whims of the BABIP fairy. The Reds registered hits on 11 of 25 balls in play against the Doc. The end result was a strange line: a complete game 8.0 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 10 K performance that pumped up his ERA, but is likely to drop his xFIP. That line screams "tough luck" to me, so I ran a quick search through the Baseball Reference Play Index to see if there have ever been any other outings like it. With parameters set at 8 or fewer innings pitched, 10 or more strikeouts, and 13 or more hits, the results came in...
Two observations: (1) that kind of bad luck doesn't happen very often (only 4 times, including Halladay's outing today, since 1920); and (2) apparently the BABIP fairy has something against Phillies greats or former Phillies greats.
Oh, and if you're brave enough to want to see the Fangraphs game probability chart from today, check here.