ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Roy Halladay tried to keep it
simple, just like he has all spring.
Reverting to his Cy Young form of two years ago, the Toronto
right-hander pitched seven-plus strong innings, and the Blue Jays
got home runs from Vernon Wells, Orlando Hudson and Eric Hinske to
beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-2 in their opener Monday.
"My biggest focus was trying to almost make it a spring
training start," Halladay said. "Sometimes it's hard not to try
and turn things up a little bit and overpower guys. ... I felt for
the most part I was able to stay under control."
After winning the 2003 AL Cy Young Award, Halladay was slowed by
injuries last season, when he was 8-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 21 starts
and spent two stints on the disabled list because of shoulder
He looked healthy and sharp in this one, striking out seven and
walking none to win for first time in three opening-day assignments
with the Blue Jays.
"He did great," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He looked
like the old Roy we saw a couple years ago."
Hudson hit a two-run homer off loser Dewon Brazelton in the
fourth inning. Six pitches later, Wells followed with a solo shot
off one of the catwalks supporting the roof at Tropicana Field.
The Devil Rays played without outfielder Alex Sanchez, who began
serving a 10-day suspension for violating baseball's new policy on
performance-enhancing drugs. He was replaced by Chris Singleton,
who went 1-for-4 and scored a run.
Four of Tampa Bay's first six hits off Halladay were infield
singles. The right-hander, who scattered nine hits, was lifted
after a leadoff single by Julio Lugo in the eighth. Scott
Schoeneweis relieved, and Miguel Batista got four outs to earn the
The Devil Rays, who've struggled offensively all spring,
finished with 10 hits -- nine of them singles. They were 1-for-9
with runners in scoring position.
"Toronto had seven hits, but three of them were long ones. That
was the game," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "I thought
we played a good ball game. We just didn't score many runs. ... But
let's not get too carried away. It's just opening day."
Brazelton allowed three runs and five hits in seven-plus innings
for the Devil Rays, who had not lost on opening day since 1999.
Their five-game winning streak in openers was the longest in the
At 24, Brazelton is the second-youngest opening day starter in
Devil Rays history. He has been a much better pitcher at home
during his career, going 7-5 at Tropicana Field as opposed to 0-11
with an 8.09 ERA in 15 road starts.
The right-hander retired the first nine Blue Jays before giving
up a bloop double to Frank Catalanotto leading off the fourth.
Hudson homered to right on a 3-1 pitch, and Wells followed with his
drive to left that struck a speaker extended below one of three
catwalks that ring the outfield.
Hinske added a two-run shot in the ninth off Jesus Colome.
"I made two mistakes. I know better than to give up those
runs," said Brazelton, who settled down after Hudson and Wells
homered to retire 10 in a row. "My teammates played their hearts
out, and I feel like I let them down."
Carl Crawford, who last week signed a $15.25 million, four-year
contract, drove in Tampa Bay's first run when he grounded into a
force play in the third.
Jorge Cantu added a sacrifice fly off Halladay in the fourth.
Brazelton watched Halladay work out of several potential jams,
and tried to take notes.
"In certain situations he would throw a curve ball and get a
strikeout," the Devil Rays pitcher said. "I would throw a fast
ball, trying not to walk anybody, and they hit it hard. That's
something I have to learn."
Halladay is the second Toronto pitcher to make three
straight opening-day starts, joining Jimmy Key (1987-89). ... C
Charles Johnson signed with Tampa Bay before the game, giving the
Devil Rays 16 players who were not on the team's opening day roster
a year ago. ... Brazelton is Tampa Bay's seventh opening-day
starter in eight seasons.