Roy Halladay no hitter potential is high almost every time he pitches. Yet a Halladay no hitter in the postseason seemed unthinkable, especially with Halladay pitching in his first playoff game. In any case, although he leads the Phillies’ three-headed collection of aces, he was technically the weak link of the group in September. While Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt had ERAs around 1 in September, the Cy Young favorite was a little iffier, until his 2-hit win to clinch the NL East title last week. However, the second of Halladay’s no hitters of the season topped that and more.
The Phillies were heavy favorites in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Reds, which made it all the more crucial to bury them early. They did just that by getting a 4-0 lead after two innings, as Halladay not only retired the first six Reds, he got an RBI hit to extend a three-run second inning.
At that point, few expected another no hitter, especially in the playoffs. Just when fans were starting to dream of another perfect game, he gave up a surprising walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth. However, the Reds still didn’t have a hit, and it kept going into the late innings.
As it turned out, Halladay was even more dominant in the late stages, needing only a handful of pitches in the eighth. On his 104th pitch of the night, Brandon Phillips tapped the ball forward, and Carlos Ruiz threw him out on his knees.
With that, the second Halladay no hitter of the year was complete, even though this one was one strike shy of a second perfect game. However, it was the most perfect game that the MLB playoffs had seen in 54 years, as Don Larsen’s perfection no longer stands alone.
The Reds had the best offensive stats in the National League, which was their best hope against the Phillies’ three aces. Yet they all went down without much of a fight, as Cincinnati’s first postseason game in 15 years became historic for the wrong reasons – at least for them.
Halladay was traded to Philadelphia in a controversial fashion, since they gave up 2009 October hero Cliff Lee to do it. Yet, for all Lee did, he never came close to this. Fittingly, Lee pitched the Rangers to a dominant Game 1 win in Tampa Bay hours earlier. But then Halladay erased all doubts about the trade for good, if he hadn’t already.
Although Halladay’s no hitter made history, the Phillies still have to win twice more to finish the Reds. The two teams have a day off to recover, before Roy Oswalt is thrown out tomorrow night to keep momentum going.
Philadelphia Daily News- “Philly has Halladay’s number now”
MLB.com- “Doc one walk away from perfection”