ATLANTA - After blowing a six-run lead Wednesday night, Roy Halladay left the Phillies to tend to a personal family matter. The absence was planned before his outing. He is expected to rejoin the team Friday in Washington.
Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Halladay told both manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee on Tuesday he would need to leave.
After addressing reporters late Wednesday night after the 15-13 loss, Halladay departed Turner Field with a small rolling suitcase. The righthander said he was physically fine although his face turned bright red as he labored through the final two innings.
Dubee admitted he does not believe Halladay's pitches are always "accelerating through the hitting zone." Since that is physically impossible, Dubee was more than likely referring to a decrease in Halladay's velocity. At times, Dubee sees the usual life and movement.
"The others," Dubee said, "he's just throwing a few cement mixers. . . . It just wasn't a good night."
Most telling will be whether it can be reversed during his next start, Monday against the Mets. If not, it could create a disturbing trend. Halladay's velocity has dropped in 2012, but the results had not - until Wednesday.
Halladay required only 46 pitches to complete the game's first four innings. It turned sour in the fifth. What happened?
"I don't know, man," catcher Carlos Ruiz said. "Everything happened real quick. He made good pitches, but I give credit to their hitters. They were looking for the pitches he threw. They didn't miss them. Everything happened real quick."
Before the shocking fifth, Halladay had not allowed six runs in one inning since May 10, 2007. Dubee said he thought about not letting Halladay pitch the sixth, in which he allowed two more runs before being yanked.
"But we're also talking about a different animal," Dubee said. "He has that innate ability to bounce back from a tough inning and regroup and get going again."
Had Brian Sanches not allowed a game-winning home run to Chipper Jones and held the Braves scoreless in the 11th inning Wednesday, he probably would have reached his limit.
Sanches said he was fatigued when the inning (his third) began. "He had to go," Manuel said. "He was there."
After Sanches, the Phillies could have used Jonathan Papelbon, but Manuel was determined not to use him unless a save situation arose. Kyle Kendrick, scheduled to start Friday, was an option, too. But it could have eventually been utility man Pete Orr on the mound.
"It might have been him," Dubee said. "Who else do you want to pitch?"
Somewhere, Wilson Valdez smiles.
The Phillies will have their first look at the division-leading Washington Nationals in this weekend's hyped three-game series.
"I don't think we're going to be scared," Manuel said coyly. "I know I'm not. We'll see."
Phillies outfielder Laynce Nix spent 2011 with the Nationals and said he's not surprised at their hot start.
"No, no," he said. "They're a good team. Their pitching staff is great, and they have a lot of good players, so this should be interesting."
Ruiz's seven RBIs in Wednesday's loss were the most ever for a Phillies catcher. When a team employee informed Ruiz of that early Thursday morning, his eyes widened. "Wow," he said. "But we lost, so it doesn't matter." He was just the 51st catcher since 1920, when RBIs officially became a statistic, to amass seven or more in one game. . . . Jimmy Rollins has a six-game hitting streak since moving to the leadoff spot. He's hitting 8 for 26 (.308) in that span.