Despite shaky outing in minor league game, Roy Halladay expects to be ready for season

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Roy Halladay was back on the mound this afternoon for the first time since he was pulled from his start last Sunday after one inning due to a stomach virus. And the results weren’t all that encouraging.

In a minor league game against the Blue Jays, Halladay retired just seven out of the 18 batters he faced while allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman. Another batter reached on an error. Of the 82 pitches he threw, he got just three swings and misses. He reached 90 mph just once and mostly sat in the 87-89 mph range. Still, Halladay brushed it off by saying that he was happy with how his arm felt and that he wasn’t all that concerned with the results.

While Halladay isn’t going to overreact to a start against minor league competition, he did acknowledge that he’s in the process of making some adjustments since he isn’t throwing as hard as he once did. This includes making some changes to the grip on his trademark cutter. Via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

“I don’t know of any guys who were throwing harder as they got older,” Halladay said after making a less than impressive minor-league start Saturday. “You’re always trying to evolve with the game and your body.

“To me, it’s a competition, not a boxing match. It’s not a strength-vs.-strength. It’s a chess match. It’s competition of the mind, and execution, and being smarter, and being more prepared. To me, that’s what I’ve enjoyed. That’s what I’ve liked about baseball.

“You look at a Jamie Moyer. He could compete with the best of them. He would’ve gotten knocked out in the first round if he was a boxer. It’s just a different mentality. It’s not about the strength and throwing harder and overpowering guys. It’s about outsmarting and being more prepared and being more consistent. That to me is a challenge.”

Halladay’s final spring tuneup will be next Thursday. While questions about his diminished stuff figure to linger well into the regular season, he expects to be ready to go against the Braves on April 3.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.