Roy Halladay was as dominant as ever tonight, tossing just the second post-season no-hitter in baseball history. He needed only 104 pitches to get through 28 batters with the lone dent on his stellar outing a fifth-inning walk to Jay Bruce. The Phillies’ prized right-hander struck out eight and induced twelve ground balls with three infield pop-ups.
With all of the great baseball moments in Philadelphia dating back to 2007, it has become increasingly hard to impress Phillies fans. Epic walk-off hits in the post-season? That’s old hat. Amazing defensive plays? Boring. Making up seven games in the standings in a short amount of time? Already did it.
Halladay, though, managed to sear himself into the memories of baseball fans with his historic performance tonight. Although he had tossed a perfect game earlier in the year and is on track to win his second career Cy Young award, many analysts and fans wondered how he would react to his first ever post-season start. It is safe to say that those questions have been answered.
Aside from confusing hitter after hitter, Halladay put on a bit of a hitting clinic in the second inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Halladay stepped to the plate against Edinson Volquez. Reds fans had to be breathing a sigh of relief as there is no other opposing hitter you’d rather see up with runners on base than the pitcher. Halladay hacked at the first pitch and sent a well-hit line drive to left field, allowing Carlos Ruiz to score to put the Phillies up 2-0. Shortly thereafter, Shane Victorino singled to center, scoring Wilson Valdez and Halladay.
Hits by Roy Halladay through one plate appearance: 1.
Hits by the Cincinnati Reds through 28 plate appearances: 0.
It was just that kind of night. The National League’s most potent offense was squelched by Halladay’s ability to get ahead of hitters and locate his pitches extremely well. Of the 28 batters Halladay faced, he threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of them (86 percent). He got to an 0-2 count with 14 of the 28 hitters and never fell behind 2-0. Pitcher Travis Wood made the best contact against Halladay, sending a line drive to right fielder Jayson Werth in the third inning. That would be the only line drive of the night.
The Reds weren’t exactly classy when speaking to reporters after the game. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera — with a .292 wOBA and 6.4 percent walk rate — thought the umpires were rather generous to Doc. Via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fayman on Twitter:
He and the umpire pitched a no-hitter. He gave him every pitch. Basically, we had no chance.
Eno Sarris posted this chart at FanGraphs in his recap that shows that home plate umpire John Hirschbeck’s zone was pretty good.
Called strikes are the light red squares and I see only one that’s questionable. You stay classy, Reds. I made the “NL East Whining” category given all of the complaining the Atlanta Braves do about the Phillies — I’m hoping I don’t have to add an “NL Central Whining” category now. Edinson Volquez pitched with the same home plate umpire and ended up walking two and not making it out of the second inning.
“I felt like we got in a groove early,” Halladay said. “[Catcher] Carlos [Ruiz] has been great all year, but he helps me get in rhythm, throwing a lot of pitches for strikes, getting ahead, and then later in the game mixing pitches well, mixing speeds well. So he’s done a great job for me, just trying to be aggressive.”
“It’s surreal. It really is,” Halladay said. “I just wanted to pitch here, pitch in the postseason. To be able to go out and have a game like that is a dream come true.”
Just as he did after his perfect game against the Florida Marlins, Halladay deflects the praise from himself and puts it on his teammates. What a guy.