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2012 Week: Opening Day and all is well

Based on Opening Day, you would have thought the 2012 Phillies were going to be just fine

Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates
Roy Halladay was dominant on Opening Day in 2012
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

As we know, the Phillies’ 2012 season wasn’t a successful one. Coming off a 102-win season, they plummeted to 81 wins and third place. But much like the worst day of my life started off pretty well, the 2012 season actually began on a high note.

Despite missing stalwarts Ryan Howard and Chase Utley from the lineup, there were a couple of reasons to be optimistic about the Phillies’ chances on Opening Day: The Phillies were facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Roy Halladay was making the start. The Pirates were perennial also-rans coming off a 90-win season and weren’t expected to be much better in 2012. And having Roy Halladay on the mound was always a solid formula for success for the Phillies.

Halladay had finished in the top five of Cy Young Award voting in each of the previous six seasons. He finished in second place in 2011, and considering he led the league in pitching WAR, many people felt he should have won for a second straight season.

However, there were whispers in Spring Training that something was off with Halladay. He was getting knocked around in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and some people suspected he might have been hiding an injury.

If anyone deserved the benefit of the doubt, it was Halladay. So, when Halladay and manager Charlie Manuel insisted there was nothing to worry about, we believed them.

Halladay’s performance on Opening Day seemed to be a rebuttal to everyone who might have been worried. Eight shutout innings with only two baserunners allowed is a great way to show the world that there’s absolutely nothing wrong.

Halladay needed to be on top of his game, because the Phillies’ Utley and Howard-deprived lineup wasn’t doing much hitting. They were facing Erik Bedard, a lefty who had been a solid starter for years but was nowhere near the caliber of Halladay. But in this game, Bedard was able to go toe-to-toe with the Phillies’ ace.

The teams traded scoreless innings until the 7th, when consecutive hits by Ty Wigginton and John Mayberry put runners on second and third. Carlos Ruiz was able to break the tie with a sacrifice fly giving the Phillies their only run of the day. But when Halladay was at his absolute best, one run was often all they needed.

After eight innings, Halladay was at 92 pitches. These days, that pitch total gets you pulled about 90% of the time, but this was Roy Halladay. He usually didn’t get pulled until he was well over 100 pitches. But perhaps not wanting to overburden his ace on day one, Manuel went with new closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

These decisions almost always seem to backfire on managers, but Papelbon avoided any controversy by retiring the Pirates in order to preserve the victory.

As we know, things soon went downhill after that for both Halladay and the Phillies. But for one day at least, the staff ace allowed us to think that everything was going to be just fine for the 2012 Phillies.