Halos run into hot hand of Halladay
Offense strikes out 14 times, late rally attempt falls shy
TORONTO -- In the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre following Tuesday's contest, Angels center fielder Torii Hunter just stood at his locker and smiled.
Even though the Angels had just lost, 6-4, to the Blue Jays, Hunter could not resist laughing in amazement at the pitching display that his club had just fell victim to, courtesy of Toronto ace Roy Halladay.
"Doc Halladay has surgery," Hunter said. "He was a doctor today. You have got to give it to him. He had surgery on all of us."
Halladay spun a complete game against the Halos, striking out a career-high 14 batters en route to his Major League-leading ninth win of the season.
As a result, Halladay pretty much dominated the postgame discussion in the Angels locker room.
"He's the best there is in the game right now," said Hunter, who was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Halladay. "He throws the ball in and out the zone, out and into the zone. He's one of the best at doing that. There are some pitchers I own, and some pitchers that own me -- he's definitely one of them."
With the loss, Los Angeles (25-25) has now dropped five of its past seven games. During that span, the Angels have been outscored, 45-26.
Angels starter Joe Saunders could not reverse that trend on Tuesday, as he put his club in a 6-0 hole during his 5 1/3 innings of work. Despite trailing by such a margin though, the Angels, to their credit, did not sit idle against Halladay.
After being held scoreless for the first six innings, the Halos managed to plate four runs in the seventh frame, cutting the score to 6-4.
After loading the bases with no outs against the Jays ace, Kendry Morales had an RBI single to get the Angels on the board. Then, following a wild pitch that scored a run, Maicer Izturis and Mike Napoli each followed with sacrifice flies.
But that was as close as Halladay would let the Angels get. The Toronto right-hander allowed just one baserunner over the game's final two innings.
"We just tried to battle back -- we got four runs late off him and it was just not enough," said Hunter. "You give Roy Halladay six runs, I'm pretty sure he's probably going to get that win."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed.
"We had a real good run in the seventh inning against him," Scioscia said. "Then he just turned off the faucet again and finished the game. He does so many things well on the mound and he just finished his own ballgame. That was impressive tonight."
Scioscia also added that Halladay (9-1) reminded him of former Dodgers greats Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser.
"They had the same tenacity to be able to pitch with elevated pitch counts, but keep their stuff," said Scioscia.
Saunders (6-4), for his part, lost his second straight start. In the third inning, Toronto's Jose Bautista clubbed an RBI triple to the right-center-field gap that opened the game's scoring and allowed the Jays to take a 1-0 lead.
Toronto (30-24) added to that tally in the fourth, when Alex Rios hit a solo home run and Kevin Millar stroked an RBI single to push the Jays' lead to 3-0. Toronto added three more runs off Saunders in the sixth inning to push its lead to 6-0. In total, the Angels left-hander yielded nine hits on the night.
"It's disappointing obviously," said Saunders, who felt he made mostly good pitches with the exception of the Millar single and Rios home run.
"All the other hits were good, located pitches," Saunders said. "I guess you just have to tip your hat and move on."
Playing against a much-hyped mound opponent can sometimes have its effect on a club and that's what Saunders believed to be the case on Tuesday for Los Angeles.
"I thought we played a little tentative and scared because of who was on the mound," Saunders said. "I think it was just our mind-set going in. No one says it, you just kind of get that feeling as a pitcher, like, 'OK, I'm facing Roy Halladay today. If I give up a run, I might lose.'
"I put added pressure on myself and I'm sure they put added pressure on themselves."
David Singh is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.