Fortunately for him, quickly and aggressively is the only way Halladay works. Halladay cruised through eight innings in wet conditions in an 8-6 victory over the Florida Marlins in a game that got close only after a crazy ninth inning forced Ryan Madson into the game with one out and the tying run at the plate.
Madson picked up his third save. Halladay got the win. And the rains never delayed a thing.
"Everything went faster because the rain was coming and the weather was real bad," Ruiz said. "I said, 'We've got to pick it up.'"
But how can one tell when Halladay picks it up? He gets the ball and throws the ball, mostly for strikes. He lets the hitters put the ball in play, mostly for groundouts.
Halladay needed just 100 pitches to get through eight innings. He allowed eight hits and two runs. He struck out four. In any other conditions, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he would have let Halladay pitch the ninth. But after Philadelphia had a long seventh inning, and after it took the grounds crew a while to prepare the field before the top of the eighth, Halladay lost a bit of his rhythm and allowed three hits and a run in the eighth.
"I wasn't as efficient, but at that point, you have a good lead and you're just trying to be aggressive," Halladay said.
Manuel walked over to Halladay on the bench in the middle of the eighth to tell him that he would not be pitching the ninth.
"That's good," Manuel said.
Halladay looked up and said, "Are you sure?"
"He wanted to go back," Manuel explained. "But I wasn't going to send him back this early in the season and the way the game had gone."
"You realize it's not going to happen every time," said Halladay, who had hoped to pitch his second complete game of the season. "He wasn't having it."
The game had gone just about perfectly to that point. Juan Castro, who has replaced injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins, had three RBIs. Chase Utley homered, his fifth in his past four games, to give him a National League-leading six homers. Placido Polanco also went deep.
The Phillies had an 8-2 lead entering the ninth. But then right-hander David Herndon allowed five hits -- three of them slow-rolling infield hits -- as the Marlins crept back into the game. Madson had to record the final two outs in less than ideal conditions to pick up the save.
"As soon as you say you're not going to pitch, you pitch," Madson said. "So you don't say that."
"We did some things wrong there as far as covering the bag and going to get those slow balls," Manuel said. "Polanco did a good job coming in on those balls, but we can get off the mound a little bit better."
Halladay said in Spring Training that he would not mind the inevitable comparisons between himself and Cliff Lee, who pitched tremendously last season for Philadelphia. Lee was traded to Seattle in December in conjunction with the Halladay deal because the Phillies said they needed to restock their farm system.
So let's compare Halladay and Lee after their first three starts with the Phillies.
Lee: 3-0, 1.13 ERA.
Halladay: 3-0, 1.13 ERA.
No joke. They have pitched almost exactly the same. Lee allowed 16 hits, three runs and six walks and struck out 23 in 24 innings. He had one complete game. Halladay allowed 21 hits, three runs and two walks and struck out 21 in 24 innings. He also had one complete game.
Lee went 5-0 with an 0.68 ERA before finishing 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 regular-season starts. Of course, when it really, truly mattered, Lee stepped up even more. He went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts to help the Phillies advance to the World Series.
Halladay wants that opportunity, too. He wants to pitch in October.
He's got to get there first. The Phillies are 3-0 when Halladay pitches. That's a nice start.