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MLB.com Columnist

Hal Bodley

Doc dominates after surprising first

Bodley: Doc dominates after surprising first

Doc dominates after surprising first
PHILADELPHIA -- The doctor was in Saturday night. Oh, he was about 20 minutes late, but once he arrived, he practiced the effective brand of medicine that makes Roy Halladay so special.

Doc Halladay hadn't even worked up a sweat in the first inning when Lance Berkman blasted a three-run homer to the seats in right field, vaulting the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-0 lead over Philadelphia as the National League Division Series got under way.

St. Louis 3, Philadelphia 0? The master Roy Halladay pitching?

The huge sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park, so boisterous moments before, became scary quiet when Berkman sent Halladay's mistake pitch through the South Philadelphia air.

St. Louis 3, Philadelphia 0?

Division Series History
It's been much more difficult to come back from a series deficit in the Senior Circuit.
Scenario ALDS NLDS
W L W L
1-0 18 14 29 3
2-0 17 4 19 0
2-1 14 5 16 1

The Phils are heavily favored to dispose of the Cards in this first round of their predicted march to the World Series.

A year ago, Halladay pitched a no-hitter in the first game of the NLDS against Cincinnati. Great things are expected from the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner this time around.

Was the first inning an aberration, or a bad omen for this long-awaited Philadelphia postseason?

And then, to start the second inning, Skip Schumaker rifled a single to right field, and the 46,480 -- the third-largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history -- got even quieter.

A minute later, it was as if someone switched on a neon sign: The Doctor Is In.

And was he ever.

From Schumaker's single until Rafael Furcal flied out to end the eighth inning, no Cardinals runner reached base.

Halladay tore through the lineup like a grizzly on the loose. He retired 21 in a row. Furcal's fly to left field was the only ball to leave the infield.

The Phillies scratched for a run in the fourth, but in the sixth, they exploded for five runs when Ryan Howard crushed a three-run rocket shot and Raul Ibanez followed a batter later with a two-run blast.

Halladay was given the night off after 105 pitches and eight innings. The Cardinals jumped on ineffective reliever Michael Stutes for three ninth-inning runs, leaving Philadelphia with an 11-6 laugher.

What makes Doc Halladay so special is his ability to quickly turn the page. It's taken years for him to create a mindset that allows him to quickly dismiss anything negative in his quest for success.

The Phils' ace said a young Roy Halladay would not have been able to deal with such a dreadful start in an ultra-important game.

"It took a long time for me to be able to learn that," he said. "You can't get [the first inning] back. That's something you learn as a pitcher, being able to put things behind you and continue to move on.

"Really, as a player, pitcher, hitter, you can't lose hope. You can't lose the aggressiveness and the feeling that you have a chance to win."

Manager Charlie Manuel said Halladay "was kind of like a Rocky movie. He got mad after he gave up the homer. That ticked him off, and he hung in there and got going. But he's special. He's everything that people talk about."

Halladay: "Yeah, I was upset, but you know, the biggest thing, especially early in the game, is I can't get it back. I can't go out and pitch and start subtracting runs.

"You have that moment of frustration, and you've got to move on. You can't do anything to get it back."

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said Halladay was trying to throw a sinker away and it went over the middle of the plate.

"I told myself those were the only runs they were going to get," Ruiz said. "So get back to work. And that's what Roy did."

Berkman put it this way: "If you get three runs in less than nine innings against the guy, you've actually made him do worse than he normally does. That's how good he is. That's why he's making $22 million a year, and that's why people consider him the best in the game."

After Schumaker's second-inning single, Jon Jay slashed a grounder to Howard's right. The first baseman made a nifty stop and tossed the ball to Halladay for the first out.

"That was a huge play," said Halladay. "After [Howard] made the play, he said, 'Keep them right there.' I think that means a lot to you, knowing our team has confidence, too, that we can come back from this. That was definitely a turning pint. If the ball gets through, maybe [runners at] second and third, maybe first and third and your back's against the wall."

That was the beginning of the 21 consecutive outs.

"He was flat-out nasty tonight," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, who said Halladay settled in after the Berkman homer. "That [home run] is pretty much all you're going to get from a guy like Halladay."

If you're lucky.

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["mlb_postseason" ] }
{"content":["mlb_postseason" ] }