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'Robot' Halladay is human after all


'Robot' Halladay is human after all
Baseball REPORTER,

Anyone who has seen pitcher Roy Halladay as he goes about preparing on game day has seen "the look."

As he makes his way around the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, it's almost as if Halladay is in a trance, rarely making eye contact, his expression as solemn as if he were attending a funeral.

Halladay projects a do-not-approach aura, and teammates keep their distance.

"He's an animal, he's a robot," said Scott Richmond, a 29-year-old rookie, who has observed his teammate's locker room habits. "He's the epitome of a starting pitcher that you'd want to have out there. No part of me wants to go up to him and ask him anything on the day he's scheduled to pitch."

Halladay (3-1) was stalled last night in his attempt to begin a season with four consecutive victories for the first time in his career as the Texas Rangers (6-7) carved out a 5-4 win over the Jays (10-5) last night before 20,996 at Rogers Centre.

It was the first of a three-game set against the Rangers for the American League East-leading Jays , who are trying to become the first team since the 2003 San Francisco Giants to win five series in a row to begin a season.

The game took a nasty turn in the top of the sixth inning, when home plate umpire Kerwin Danley was struck in the head by the barrel of a broken bat. The incident occurred as Hank Blalock of the Rangers popped out to shortstop Marco Scutaro. As Blalock swung, the bat broke; and as he followed through, the barrel flew off and appeared to strike Danley near the right temple.

Danley crumpled behind home plate and laid there motionless for about five minutes as he was attended to by medical personnel. He was placed on a stretcher and taken off the field.

After a 10-minute delay, the game resumed with Hunter Wendelstedt, who began the night as the second-base umpire, moving behind the plate.

Danley, who never lost consciousness, was taken to hospital.

Heading into last night's game, Halladay had 116 wins since the start of the 2002 season, first among all MLB pitchers. (Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros is in second with 115.)

Halladay likes to finish what he starts. His 35 complete games since the 2003 season are 11 more than his nearest rival, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees.

"I grew up watching him," Richmond said of Halladay. "In my mind, he's the best pitcher in the league. I see how he prepares himself for games ... and it's second to none.

"I don't know how anybody could compete harder than him. Everybody on the team competes as hard as they can, but he just takes it to another level."

Oddly, despite all his success, Halladay has never really enjoyed as hot a start as he has this season. He had never won his first three games to begin a season as he has this year, even during his Cy Young Award-winning campaign in 2003, when he was 0-2 after six starts.

Last night, Halladay was inconsistent, striking out nine over the eight innings he worked while being victimized by the long ball, surrendering two two-run home runs, to Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, respectively, to take his first loss of the year.

Aaron Hill stroked a home run for Toronto, a one-out shot to left field in the fifth inning that knotted the score 3-3.

But Halladay was rattled in the seventh, when he surrendered Kinsler's homer, his fifth of the season, to right field on a 1-0 pitch that vaulted the Rangers back in front 5-3.

It marked the second time in his four starts Halladay has allowed two home runs.

Toronto shaved the score to 5-4 in the eighth inning, when Adam Lind stroked a single to right that scored Alex Rios from second base.

The Jays then loaded the bases with one out, but failed to inflict any more damage.

*****

On deck

Notes Cito Gaston's lineup has pretty much remained the same all season, and the Toronto Blue Jays manager says, why fix things if they aren't broken? "I think it's easier for guys to come to the ballpark and either know they're playing or not playing and also know where they're hitting in the lineup," Gaston said yesterday. "It's just something positive for themselves." ... The Blue Jays have started 2009 with four consecutive victories in series of three games or more. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to win five series in a row was the San Francisco Giants in 2003. ... The Blue Jays went into last night's game against Texas having lost four of their past five series to the Rangers, dating back to last season.

NEXT Today, Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. EDT

PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays LHP David Purcey (0-1, 6.46 ERA) v. Rangers LHP Matt Harrison (0-2, 8.44)

TV Rogers Sportsnet

Robert MacLeod


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 22, 2009

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