It certainly wasn’t pretty. But when you’re fighting for your season, when you’re one loss away from going home, style points don’t mean much.
There is one goal. Survive at any cost.
You scratch. You claw. You fight. You do whatever it takes. Even if you have to do it on one leg.
And that’s exactly what the Phillies did in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday. They did what they had to do to win the game. And they did it on one leg. Literally.
Roy Halladay pulled his groin in the second inning on a pitch to Cody Ross and still got the biggest win of the Phillies season. He threw 84 pitches after the Ross at-bat and led the Phillies to a 4-2 win, trimming San Francisco’s series lead to 3-2.
“I feel like I’ve got to tell you,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel confessed. “Somebody will say something about it anyway. Second inning, Halladay, he had a mild groin pull, his right groin. And he pitched like – of course, he stayed in there.
“He wasn’t going to let us take him out. He wanted to stay in. … He was determined that he was going to stay in the game. He said – when he came back he said he wanted to try it. He said he wanted to keep going.
“I think he gutted it out. And I’ll tell you something else, not only that, but that was really big, and we needed him to. That was very big.”
It doesn’t get much bigger. On any other night, the training staff would have pulled Halladay from the game. But this wasn’t any other night. This was Game 5 of the NLCS, the Phillies were down 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants, and Doc couldn’t afford an early exit.
Roy Halladay ain’t got time to bleed.
So Doc pitched on one leg, had nothing close to his best stuff and managed to beat the 2008 and ‘09 Cy Young winner in a game the Phils needed. He couldn’t get to 90 on the radar gun and his control wasn’t anything close to what he’s used to. But he held the Giants at bay anyway, allowing just two runs over six tough innings.
Anyone who was watching could tell Halladay wasn’t right. We all kept waiting for his house of cards – and the Phillies season – to come tumbling down. Forget the velocity, he had seven three-ball counts in six innings. That’s a month’s worth, but Halladay battled. And despite being unable to run to first base, Doc left the game with a 3-2 lead after six.
Was it all smoke and mirrors? Can a pitcher will his arm to the plate when one of his legs can’t help him get there?
Halladay wasn’t talking. He wasn’t willing to make excuses, even after the game was over and won. When Fox’s Ken Rosenthal asked him about how he dealt with not having his best stuff, Halladay had a chance to tell the world about how he played with injury. He passed.
Question: It seemed like you didn’t have your best stuff, command. Tell us how you got through it.
Answer: Just battling. We were able to get the lead and you’re just trying to do all you can to hold it. Would’ve liked to gut deeper, but the bullpen got the job done for us.
“It won’t go down as this,” Brad Lidge told CSNPhilly’s John Finger, “but that was one of the most impressive outings he’s had.”
Let me tell you something, Brad. If the Phillies come back and win this series, if they somehow defy the odds and win Games 6 and 7 at home, this performance will be remembered forever. Halladay will be Philadelphia’s Kirk Gibson.
And Philadelphia will have earned itself a folk hero.
“He’s a man,” Jayson Werth said of the gutsy performance.
Sorry, Jayson. If the Phillies somehow manage another world championship, Halladay will cease to be a man. In Philadelphia, he will be a god.
“I was kidding with him,” Manuel said about his talk with Halladay after the game. “I said, ‘When are you going to be available — next year?’ and he said, ‘Five days.’”
Five days? Does that mean Halladay won’t pitch Sunday out of the pen if needed? Please.
When Ken Rosenthal asked Halladay if he’d be available out of the pen if needed in Game 7, Halladay responded, “I’ll do whatever they tell me.”
You know what? That answer is dishonest. I don’t believe him. I don’t think Halladay is a “whatever they tell me” type of guy.
Bet the mortgage that sometime this weekend Halladay is going to limp up to pitching coach Rich Dubee or Manuel and tell them, “Leg or no leg, I’m ready to go.”
The ghost of Gibson is possessing him now; the memory of Willis Reed is taking over; the hearts of Kerri Strug and Daniel LaRusso are pumping through his veins.
The Phillies need to win Game 6 or all this is moot. Roy Oswalt has to shake off his loss in a Game 4 relief performance and beat Jonathan Sanchez, or this Halladay start is nothing more than a footnote.
But if the other Roy can force a Game 7 … and if Game 7 is tight late … and if Cole Hamels is spent … there’s no pitcher Manuel would use over Halladay.
I don’t care if someone has to wheel him to the mound. Roy Halladay’s gonna pitch. And if the Phillies PR department doesn’t have this clip cued up on Phanavision and Elisabeth Shue and Ralph Macchio in the building, well then they just don’t understand what it is we are all fighting for.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/leerussakoff.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.