Roy Halladay fails to make it four innings in first start

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Roy Halladay struck out nine Atlanta batters Wednesday in his first start of the regular season. But everything else about the outing was hideous.

Halladay threw only 55 of his 95 pitches for strikes, yielding five earned runs on six hits and three walks before getting pulled with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. His fastball touched 91-92 mph on occasion — which was a positive sign — but it didn’t have the kind of movement or bite that it usually does and he relied primarily on his breaking stuff.

Halladay posted an ugly 6.06 ERA, 1.84 WHIP and 16/9 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings this spring while struggling to build his fastball velocity. The 35-year-old is owed $20 million this season and carries a $20 million vesting option for 2014.

The Braves (now 2-0) defeated the Phillies (now 0-2) by a score of 9-2.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.