Phillies’ ace RHP Roy Halladay thew a no-hitter in his FIRST ever playoff appearance. In the same season he threw a perfect game. Doc cruised right through the Cincy lineup, whiffing eight batters and allowing only a fifth-inning walk as the only blemish on an otherwise perfect scorecard on his way to making baseball history. Erasing the full-count, 2-out free pass to Reds’ OF Jay Bruce in the 5th would’ve made Halladay the first pitcher in history to throw two perfect games in one season. He is, however, the first pitcher (5th ever) to throw two no-hitters in a season since Nolan Ryan did it in 1973.
You knew something was up when Halladay and battery-mate Carlos Ruiz had something special when Doc shook off just one of Ruiz’ signals all night. Doc faced just one batter among the minimum, and in doing so, threw a 1st-pitch strike to 17 of the first 18 batters, and 25 of 28 (89.3%) overall, the 5th-highest percentage for any starter this year who faced a minimum of 20 hitters. Halladay threw 104 pitches, 79 for strikes. This was the first no-hitter against the Reds since 1971, when Philadelphia’s Rick Wise beat them by the same 4-0 score.
“I felt like we got in a groove early. Carlos has been great all year, he helps me get into a rhythm early, throwing strikes.”
The Reds managed just a pair of hard-hit balls all night, and only four left the infield – in truth, they never really came close to recording a hit. He’s now the 1st pitcher to toss a shutout in his postseason debut since Bobby Jones’ 1-hitter for the Mets in Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS. He’s also the first starting pitcher in the history of postseason baseball to have more hits in a game than he allowed. Halladay was 1-3 with this RBI single.
“It’s surreal, it really is. I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the post-season. To go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”
What makes this more impressive is that it was against the Reds, who lead the NL in runs, average, hits and home runs this season. But for Toronto fans, this is nothing new. Doc has flown under the radar for years, and now that he’s getting some US media attention, everyone is slowly starting to see who this guy is.
Doc joins Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game in the World Series of 1956, as the only pitchers to throw no-no’s in the postseason. It’s also the sixth no-hitter of 2010, a season that is quickly becoming known as the Year of the Pitcher.
Halladay pumped his fist into his glove as Ruiz rushed to the mound. Just like Yogi Berra did with Larsen, Ruiz started to jump into Halladay’s arms. Unlike Berra, the five-foot-eight Ruiz didn’t wrap up his pitcher in a bear hug.
“I think as soon as you try and (focus on a no-hitter) it kind of takes you out of your plan a little bit,” he said, admitting that he knew the he was aware he was pitching a no-hitter, “in the fifth or sixth inning.”
Halladay, very quietly, has become the best pitcher of our generation. He’s a 3-time 20-game winner, 6-time All-Star and has a 2003 Cy Young award, but has yet to play in any meaningful games – until Game 1 of the NLDS. 12 years we’ve waited to see what Doc was capable of in the postseason, and how does he fare? Not bad, just a no-hitter.
Even bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer noticed something different about Halladay during the warmups, saying his fastball had some extra movement as it cut over the plate. “I didn’t know if he could throw a no-hitterm but he was real, real crisp.” Halladay had everything working – the fastball, curve, sinker, changeup – and he made Reds’ hitters look goofy all night, moreso than his perfect game outing against the Marlins.
There were 5 no-hitters in the majors this year as pitchers dominated – but 5 no-hit bids got broken up in the ninth inning. Not this time.
As Ruiz slowly fielded a swinging bunt from Brandon Phillips (his bat made contact with the ball on the ground, thus the delayed throw) as the final out of the game, the sellout-crowd of 46,411 that filled Citizen’s Bank Park absolutely erupted. “Let’s Go Roy, Let’s Go Roy!” chants filled the stadium.
Cole Hamels, who watched from the dugout during Doc’s perfect game earlier this season, was amazed once again with what Halladay is capable of.
“You know, this is what he expects to do, and so when he does it he’s just like, ‘yeah that’s me.’”
Roy Halladay, entirely under the radar, has become the most dominating and talented pitcher of our generation. As he looks to be the favourite for the 2010 NL Cy Young, what could be the second on his mantle, he remains a humble, classy human being. The amount of hours he puts into single games is unprecedented, and he continues to be baseball’s best-kept secret and one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball. It’s truly a shame that it’s taken him 12 years to finally get to the playoffs, but now that he has, he’s gotten a golden opportunity to win a World Series – the only thing missing from his Hall of Fame resume.
What we just watched was unforgettable baseball history we’ll be seeing for the rest of our lives. Amazing.
“This is what you come here for. It’s a good team, they know how to win. … It’s been a great year, a fun year, we obviously have a ways to go.”
Marc Valeri – email@example.com
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