SAN FRANCISCO -- Roy Halladay introduced himself to the postseason scene with historic greatness two weeks ago. Now the Phillies' ace has a chance to prove why so many in the baseball world have said he's the game's best option to send to the mound in a must-win situation.
With no room for error and their backs against the wall, the Phillies find themselves comforted by the fact that they'll be sending Halladay to the mound Thursday night to oppose Giants ace Tim Lincecum in the potentially decisive Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
"This is the guy that I want to have the ball. He always finds a way to show what he's all about," Phils outfielder Shane Victorino said. "[Thursday] night, he's going to go out there, work hard, be himself and be the horse that he was when we got him."
2010: 2 GS, 1-1, 2.25 ERA Career: 2 GS, 1-1, 2.25 ERA
2010: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.69 ERA Career: 2 GS, 2-0, 1.69 ERA
At AT&T PARK
2010: 1 GS, 0-1, 6.43 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 0-1, 7.30 ERA
2010: 18 GS, 10-7, 3.40 ERA Career: 63 GS, 31-15, 2.99 ERA
Against this opponent
2010: 2 GS, 0-2, 5.79 ERA
Career: 4 GS, 0-3, 6.68 ERA
2010: 2 GS, 1-0, 2.94 ERA Career: 8 GS, 3-1, 3.25 ERA
Loves to face: Andres Torres (1-for-7) Hates to face: Edgar Renteria (4-for-11)
Loves to face: Chase Utley (2-for-20, 8 Ks)
Hates to face: Ryan Howard (6-for-19, 3 HRs)
Why he'll win: When on, arguably the best pitcher in the game
Why he'll win: Fun-loving "Freak" will feed off frenzied home crowd
Pitcher beware: Has never beaten the Giants
Pitcher beware: It only takes one mistake to be in trouble against this lineup
Bottom line: One of the best
Bottom line: No slouch, either
When the Phillies acquired Halladay from the Blue Jays in December, they envisioned him carrying them back to the World Series. The path to a third consecutive Fall Classic evolved into an uphill battle Wednesday night, when the Giants won Game 4 and gained a 3-1 advantage in this best-of-seven NLCS.
"I'm good. I'm fine with that," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "I'm looking for great things out of Roy. I can tell you the last time he had a bad game, he came back and shut the other team down. It's not that he went out there and had a horrible game [in Game 1], but in his mind, that's not the Roy Halladay that he wants to be."
When Halladay allowed four earned runs in seven innings and lost his much-anticipated matchup against Lincecum in Game 1, the level of disappointment nearly equaled the level of euphoria he felt on Oct. 6, when he christened his first postseason start by victimizing the Reds with just the second no-hitter in Major League playoff history.
"I mean, disappointed isn't always the best word," Halladay said. "I wasn't happy with the job that I did, and obviously with the end result."
Unfortunately for Halladay, the end result was far too familiar to the others he'd experienced in his three previous career outings against the Giants.
Including the NLCS matchup, Halladay has gone 0-3 with a 6.66 ERA in four career starts against the Giants. The A's (4.54 in 13 starts) and Rangers (5.36 in 20 appearances) stand as the only other clubs he has posted a plus-4.50 ERA against while making at least four starts.
If stretching to find the positives from this small sample size, Halladay did allow the Giants just four earned runs in seven innings during Game 1. In each of his previous three outings against them, he had allowed exactly five earned runs -- including an April 26 start here at AT&T Park that also lasted seven innings.
"It really gets back to just doing a better job of executing pitches, which is how it is with all teams," Halladay said. "Really looking back, in the two games there were mistakes that hurt me."
Two of the most costly pitches delivered by Halladay in Saturday's Game 1 loss were deposited over the outfield wall by the suddenly imposing Cody Ross. But the most influential pitch was the 0-2 cutter that he seemingly painted on the inside corner at Pat Burrell's knees.
When plate umpire Derryl Cousins called a ball and Burrell followed with an RBI single that fueled the decisive two-run sixth, Halladay was staring at the same misfortune the Giants have grown accustomed to creating against him.
"I know what I have to do," Halladay said. "My job's to execute pitches. You obviously don't beat a team single-handedly. You do it as a team. That's something we've done all year. We've beat teams as a team. I need to do a better job on my end of making good pitches. I know what I need to do. It's just a matter of going out and doing it."
Looking at the fact that the Giants are the only Major League club that has handed Halladay two losses this year, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel believes that San Francisco's aggressive offensive approach has simply proven successful against his ace's aggressive approach to the strike zone.
"I think that they're aggressive, and I think Roy's mostly around the plate, and they're apt to get some hits when you're swinging," Manuel said. "If he's not putting the ball exactly where he wants to and stuff like that, you'll run into a couple or some hits. That's basically what happened. But the other day, the game he pitched last week, I felt like him and Lincecum were pretty much even up."
Last weekend's highly-anticipated pitching matchup didn't live up to what could have been viewed as ridiculous expectations. The Phillies damaged Lincecum's seven-inning effort with Carlos Ruiz's solo homer and Jayson Werth's two-run shot.
Now away from the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park and pitted against each other in the more pitcher-friendly environment created by AT&T Park, Halladay and Lincecum will seemingly have a better opportunity to at least attempt to match the expectations that surrounded their Game 1 matchup.
"I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity," Halladay said. "I think all our guys are looking forward to the opportunity of continuing to play."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.