© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
The Astros' mystical prowess in Citizens Bank Park -- 14-7 after Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the Phillies in 16 innings -- runs into the ultimate spell-buster Wednesday night in Roy Halladay.
And as Doc scrubs up to again wow Phillies fans by cutting up another opponent with surgical precision, perhaps the focus shouldn't be on whether he will capture the National League Cy Young Award many had predicted for him even before the season.
After all, there is one of those every year. But a right-handed 20-game winner in Philadelphia? That hasn't been seen for 54 years, since the last of Robin Roberts' six straight 20-win seasons in 1955.
The Hall of Fame legend passed away on May 6 -- the same day Halladay silenced the Cardinals for his sixth win. Now he tries for a seventh straight victory that would leave him only three short of that coveted 20 -- most recently reached by a Phillies pitcher in 1982 by another Hall of Famer, left-hander Steve Carlton.
Adding to the allure, Halladay will be opposed by J.A. Happ, who was in Philadelphia's rotation a month ago before going to the Astros in a July 31 deal for Roy Oswalt.
Obviously, given their success in the place, all of the Astros feel comfortable in and around Citizens Bank Park. But Happ really
knows the lay of the land.
"It's a little bit strange, obviously," Happ said of being a visitor to a place that very recently was home. "My hotel is two blocks from my old apartment, and I hadn't been on the visiting side of the clubhouse before. It's different, but I'll get used to it."
Getting used to where to go promised to be easier than getting his former teammates out. Especially with the Phillies having been held to four runs in the first 25 innings of this series -- with already one "haunting" in the books, Brett Myers' sharp seven innings in Monday night's 3-2 victory.
"I know what they're capable of doing, but I've got to try to hold them down as best as I can and treat them like any other game," Happ said. "I know that's going to be hard. That's the goal, to try to stay within myself."
Astros: Club used to working overtime
The Tuesday-Wednesday game was the Astros' 11th extra-inning affair of the season -- but their longest since a 17-inning loss in Atlanta on July 6, 2008.
Phillies: Howard in a rut at plate
Ryan Howard, 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in Tuesday's game prior to his 14th-inning ejection, is 2-for-19, with two singles, since coming off the disabled list on Saturday. ... Placido Polanco was back in the lineup after taking one game off to quiet his barking left elbow.
Carlos Ruiz, who never hit higher than .261 before breaking out as one of the Phils' main offensive threats last postseason by batting .341, has carried that high into this season, ranking second among regular National League catchers with a .292 average. Another catcher, the Angels' Jeff Mathis, has not enjoyed the same type of carryover success: He was a career .200 hitter before batting .533 (8-for-15) in the 2009 playoffs -- and now is back to .196.