Hill ends slump with homer, Doc dominates as Blue Jays beat Royals
Roy Halladay is the first 10-game winner in the majors, has thrown at least seven innings in each of his 13 starts, and now boasts consecutive complete-game gems
TORONTO - Roy Halladay is the first 10-game winner in the majors, has thrown at least seven innings in each of his 13 starts, and now boasts consecutive complete-game gems after Sunday's brilliant and economical 4-0 shutout of the Kansas City Royals.
Good as he's ever been, Lyle Overbay?
"Honestly," said the first baseman, thinking it over, "I've seen him better. That's why he's so good, because he hasn't had his (best) stuff yet and he's still able to dominate. ...
"It's scary what he can do. We still haven't seen it, I don't think. He's getting there but I still think he's got something."
That's bad news for the rest of the American League but good news for the Toronto Blue Jays, who rode their ever-dominant ace's 12th career shutout and a two-run blast from Aaron Hill that ended the second baseman's 0-for-25 drought past the reeling Royals.
Overbay also went deep in running his hit streak to 13 games to help the Blue Jays (32-27) finish off their homestand at 5-4, steadying themselves after an 0-9 road trip. They look to work on their 11-17 road record Monday in Texas, where they open a four-game set against the AL-West leading Rangers.
"You know, it could have been better," manager Cito Gaston said of the homestand. "We had a chance to win at least one more game, I thought. We didn't get it. We got to work from that losing streak and that was really important to get back and win two series out of three here, and that's not bad at all.
"We'll take that and move on."
Halladay (10-1) won't pitch again until the Florida Marlins arrive in Toronto next Friday, but he made sure his team left town with the bullpen rested and another victory in the books. Coming off a career-high 133 pitches in a complete-game win over the Angels last Tuesday, he was in total control throughout his nine economical innings, seriously threatened only once.
That was in the seventh when the Royals (24-32), who fell to 6-21 since climbing a season-high seven games over .500 at 18-11 on May 7, loaded the bases with one out. Halladay then blew away Miguel Olivo on three pitches before Mitch Maier grounded out weakly to first on the first pitch to end the frame.
"He just took it up to a whole other level," marvelled Overbay.
Added Gaston: "That's just a sign of superstars. They're like that. When they need to kick it up a notch they have notch to kick up. ..."
"He's just like the other Hall of Famers that I know," Gaston continued, mentioning Bob Gibson specifically. "You talk about Hall of Famers, you can put Doc in the same category as these guys. If he stays healthy he will be one."
Halladay struck out six, walked none and allowed just seven hits while throwing a mere 97 pitches - an astonishing 73 for strikes against the helpless Royals. He's already halfway to the third 20-win season of his career and is on track to improve on the personal-best 22 victories he posted in his Cy Young season in 2003.
"It's the best run-support I've ever had, that's for sure, and that makes a huge difference," Halladay, backed by average of about seven runs per start, said in explaining his strong start. "There were games early on where I didn't necessarily pitch great and we scored enough runs.
"For me that's far and away been the biggest difference."
There wasn't much drama in this one, as the Blue Jays built their 4-0 advantage over the first three innings against Kyle Davies (2-6) before a crowd of 21,071.
They opened the scoring in the first on a sacrifice fly by Vernon Wells that scored Hill, who had walked earlier in the inning, and went up 2-0 in the second when Overbay crushed a 1-1 offering off of Windows restaurant in centre field.
They doubled that edge in the third when Marco Scutaro walked before Hill picked his first hit since last Saturday by turning on a 1-2 offering for his 13th homer. Manager Cito Gaston rested his second baseman Saturday and it must have done some good.
"It was a relief to start helping the team with something instead of just defence," said Hill. "I felt fine, whether it was the day off or not, if felt fresh, ready to go and it worked out."
He had a scary moment in the fourth, when a Davies fastball hit him high on his left shoulder. Hill, who missed most of last season with a concussion, stayed down for a second before calmly jogging to first.
"It's fine," Hill said of his shoulder. "Lucky I got out of the way, it just grazed me."
Notes: Hill's 0-for-25 rut was the longest hitless streak by a Blue Jays player since Troy Glaus went 0-for-27 in 2007. ... Jays 3B Scott Rolen sat out the game with a sore back. Jose Bautista started in his place and went 1-for-4. ... The Royals won the season series versus the Blue Jays (5-3) for the first time since 2001. ... Casey Janssen (1-2, 5.82) starts Monday's opener in Texas against Scott Feldman (5-0, 3.79). ... The Blue Jays were 4-2 at Rangers Ballpark last season but visits there have generally not gone well for them in recent years. From 2002 through 2007, they were 6-22 in Texas.