TORONTO - Four and a half years ago, the Toronto Blue Jays had an opportunity to reshape their franchise with one move. They had Roy Halladay, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, as a trade chip.
On Dec. 16, 2009, Toronto sent Halladay to the Phillies for three prospects: pitcher Kyle Drabek, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and outfielder Michael Taylor.
On the surface, it looks as if that trade worked out about as well for Toronto as a second trade the Phillies made that day: Cliff Lee to Seattle for three prospects, none of whom is in the major leagues (or appears close to getting to the majors in 2014).
Drabek, the Phillies' former top pitching prospect, has had two Tommy John surgeries. The 26-year-old is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in six starts at Triple A Buffalo.
Taylor was flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace on the same day as the other two, higher-profile trades. Then Wallace was flipped for another former Phillies outfield prospect, Anthony Gose.
Gose, 23, is a teammate of Drabek in Buffalo. D'Arnaud, 25, meanwhile, is hitting .200 in his first full big-league season . . . with the New York Mets.
The Blue Jays sent d'Arnaud in another prospect-laden trade for a former Cy Young Award-winner. First, he came in for Halladay, then he was sent out for R.A. Dickey.
Dickey is all the remains from the Halladay deal in Toronto. And last night, with a barrage of bats behind him, it was enough to beat the Phillies.
Dickey held the Phillies to two runs in the game's first six innings and Toronto's power bats came out to play for the second straight night at the Rogers Centre as the Blue Jays handed the Phillies a 12-6 defeat.
"Well it was [Mark] Buehrle last night, Dickey tonight," exasperated Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He can be tough. Both guys were tough. And they're throwing the ball well. They're on a little bit of a roll, those two guys pitching . . . "
And with a healthy heaping of home runs, too.
Toronto won all four games of the interleague, four-game, home-and-home series with the Phillies. The Blue Jays outscored the Phils, 31-11 in the four games combined . . . and it didn't even seem that close once the series shifted to Toronto.
The Phils scored three, last-gasp runs with two outs in the ninth inning, two on Ryan Howard's seventh homer of the season.
The six runs the Phillies scored equaled their run total from the previous four games combined. Needless to say, their offense wasn't capable of keeping up with the constant thunder of the Blue Jays' lineup.
After scoring nine times against Cliff Lee and the Phillies in the seventh inning on Wednesday, the Blue Jays blasted their way to another double-digit run total by way of the long ball. Toronto hit five home runs total, three off A.J. Burnett.
Burnett was charged with seven runs (six earned) in six innings. He entered the night having allowed three runs in his last four starts, a span of 27 2/3 innings.
"Balls ran over the plate tonight - I wasn't on the corners at all," Burnett said. "And that's what big-league hitters are going to do to you when balls are running over the middle of the plate."
Burnett gave up eight hits in the first three innings, including home runs to Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus in the second. He gave up another homer, a two-run shot from Adam Lind, in the sixth.
Encarnacion homered again in the seventh, this time off newly promoted reliever Luis Garcia. Encarnacion homered in each of the final three games the Phils and Jays played this week.
Toronto slugged 11 home runs in the four-game series and now have 44. Only the Colorado Rockies have hit more homers this season.
"Well we were out-homered, 11-2, in four games; that goes a long way," Sandberg said. "That added up, took its toll, and we weren't able to answer that on the offensive side. And some other little things. We weren't fundamentally sound for the four games, a lot of little things, baserunning, a base here or there, some defense, some pitches in the middle of the plate, pitching behind in the count. A lot of fundamental things, we didn't execute."
Four days ago, the Blue Jays entered Citizens Bank Park in last place in the American League East, three games under .500, and having lost eight of their previous 11 games. When the Phillies headed south for the border last night, Toronto was the hottest team in the AL.
Meawhile, the Phillies (15-18) tied their season-low watermark by dropping three games below .500. After showing some life at the end of last month, winning six of their last eight games on a trip out west that had begun with back-to-back losses, the Phillies have lost six of their last eight games to the Mets, Nationals and Blue Jays.
"At this point," second baseman Chase Utley said, "we've got to put these games behind us and start fresh tomorrow."
"Move forward, positive thoughts," Burnett said. "Find a way to find some positives. It's a good group in there, everyone is pulling for each other, no one is giving up. It's just a matter of everyone clicking at the same time."
The Phillies optioned infielder Freddy Galvis to Triple A Lehigh Valley following the game. Galvis went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the game, but is only 2-for-42 in 16 games this season.
Among the 386 major league players with at least 25 plate appearances, Galvis ranks last in the major leagues in hitting (.048), OBP (.109) and OPS (.156).
"He needs to go, play, get at-bats and gather himself a little bit," Sandberg said of Galvis, who missed the season's first 2 weeks while recovering from a MRSA infection. "He might have been rushed up here a little bit, with not having spring training."
"I missed a lot of games," Galvis said. "I missed a lot of at-bats. That's why I'm going down, you know? To get my at-bats, try to get my approach and try to swing the bat better."
The Phillies will make a corresponding move before tonight's game in New York.