Originally posted on Philly Sports Live  |  Last updated 4/22/12

The Philadelphia Phillies were doing their best impression of the awful 1972 club in the first weeks of the year. Of course, Phillies fans like myself aren’t that delusional to think they’ve become that bad. Yet that 1972 Philadelphia team won 27 games with Steve Carlton and only 32 with everyone else on the mound – while in the opening weeks of this season, the 2012 Phillies went 3-0 with Roy Halladay and 2-7 with every other pitcher before facing the San Diego Padres this weekend.

As such, after winning the first two games over the Padres and increasing their winning streak in San Diego to 13 games, the Phillies should have breezed with Halladay taking the mound on April 21. Instead, they proved they could even lose with Halladay pitching – especially when they only got three hits en route to a 5-1 loss.

The Phillies couldn’t blame this loss entirely on the offense, as Halladay had his first iffy start of the year on his own. Despite giving up just five hits in seven innings, he somehow walked three straight Padres in the second inning and yielded the game’s first run on a groundout. After that, he gave up three straight hits and an RBI double in the third before finally settling down – but it was too late by then.

Halladay had survived a 1-0 game on Opening Day and gotten one big inning of support in his next two wins. But this time, there was no sudden explosion and he couldn’t survive a pitcher’s duel. Despite all of Halladay’s credentials, Cory Luebke looked like the dominant Cy Young ace with eight innings of two-hit ball.

Once Halladay was gone, the floodgates opened when Michael Stutes gave up three insurance runs in the eighth. As such, the Padres proved to the Phillies that their top ace can’t be perfect for them – and as such, pitchers other than him need to win more once in a while.

That will get a little harder for the next 15 days, now that Cliff Lee has landed on the DL. However, Lee hadn’t won a game this year anyway – not even after 10 shutout innings on April 18 – so with his luck, his replacement will win a few while he’s healing. But the Phillies will take more wins from anyone who isn’t Halladay at this point.
If Halladay starts getting into a lull, then Philadelphia really will be in a big early hole if the rest of the rotation can’t step up. This is supposed to be a rotation powered by a Big Three and maybe even a fourth in Vance Worley – yet only one of these hurlers has been consistently reliable so far. But if even Halladay can lose to the Padres in San Diego, it should be a wake-up call that the Phillies can’t be a one-man show.

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