Phillies' Halladay joins Larsen with postseason no-hitter
PHILADELPHIA - Roy Halladay waited 13 years to deliver his first pitch in the playoffs. When he finally got that opportunity Wednesday, the Reds had no chance.
Halladay threw a no-hitter in Game 1 of the National League Division Series to join Don Larsen as the only pitchers in history to accomplish the feat during the postseason. If not for a fifth-inning walk to Jay Bruce, with two outs, Halladay would have been perfect as well in the Phillies' 4-0 victory before a crowd of 46,411 at Citizens Bank Park.
"It was complete domination," Reds leftfielder Jonny Gomes said.
Halladay, who threw a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, was as efficient as he was brilliant - 79 of his 104 pitches were strikes. The Reds looked clueless at the plate and had only four fly balls that even reached the outfield.
"He didn't miss, he didn't make any mistakes," Bruce said. "He wasn't nibbling, and he has that ability because his ball moves so much."
Halladay made it look easy. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the first 18 batters he faced and the Reds seemed clueless. In the ninth inning, with fans on their feet waving white rally towels, Halladay breezed through his final obstacle. He got Ramon Hernandez on a pop-up to Chase Utley and retired pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo on a foul pop near third base.
The most difficult defensive play of the entire game was the final out. Brandon Phillips took a 93-mph fastball for a called strike, then hopelessly flailed at a cutter. The next pitch was a 79-mph curve ball and Phillips barely made contact for a tapper in front of the plate.
With the speedy leadoff hitter hustling down the line, catcher Carlos Ruiz had to scoop the ball away from the fallen bat, which was on the grass, and throw over Phillips' shoulder.
Once Ryan Howard grabbed the ball, the Phillies stormed the field, with Ruiz hugging Halladay on the mound.
"It was a lot of fun," Halladay said. "It's just one of those special things I think you'll always remember. But the best part about it is the playoffs take priority and that's pretty neat for me to be able to go out there and win a game like that."
Halladay's only regret was the full-count pitch to Bruce in the fifth inning. After falling behind, 2-1, Halladay got a swing-and-miss with a curve ball, but his next two pitches were off the plate as Bruce managed to draw the walk. "We tried to throw a sinker inside and it kind of stayed on its line," Halladay said. "It didn't come back as much as they had earlier in the game. I think if it does, we'd probably get a strike there."
In Orlando Cabrera's view, Halladay got more than his share of calls from plate umpire John Hirschbeck. The Reds shortstop complained afterward that Hirschbeck's strike zone deserved as much credit as Halladay for stifling Cincinnati. "Any time you're getting strikes, I think it's good," Halladay said. "That's something that I've never tried to concern myself a lot with."
"I've been in baseball 50 years and this is the first time I've seen a guy throw two no-hitters in a year," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Absolutely unreal."