A game to remember: Doc’s postseason gem
The National League Division Series got started in historic fashion as Roy Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds -- the league’s best offensive team -- in the opening game, 4-0, before a delirious Citizens Bank Park sellout on Oct. 6, 2010. It was the first postseason game for the 33-year-old.
“Doc” joined Don Larsen as the only pitchers with a no-hitter in the 107-year history of postseason baseball. Pitching for the New York Yankees, Larsen threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series by the same 4-0 score.
Only a two-out walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth inning kept Halladay from a second perfect game of the year. Halladay was more economical than his perfect game back in May, throwing 104 pitches, 79 strikes. He struck out eight, including Scott Rolen three times. Five of the eight strikeouts were swinging. Only four balls were hit to the outfield. Perhaps the most amazing stat of the night: of the 28 batters Halladay faced, he threw a first-pitch strike to 25.
With 46,411 fans on their feet Halladay walked to the mound in the top of the ninth inning. Seven pitches later it was over: catcher Ramon Hernandez popped to Chase Utley, pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo fouled to third baseman Wilson Valdez bringing up a tough hitter, second baseman Brandon Phillips. On an 0-2 pitch, he hit a tapper in front of the plate that struck Phillips’ bat. Carlos Ruiz pounced on the ball and from his knees fired to Ryan Howard setting off another celebration.
“I was panicking,” admitted Ruiz after the game.
Once again, Halladay acknowledged the crowd.
“When it gets that loud, it’s hard to ignore,” he said. “I thought especially the last three innings, it seemed like it got louder every inning. It’s obviously one of the most electric atmospheres I’ve ever been in. It’s something you obviously can’t ignore, so it was a lot of fun.”
By the middle innings, Halladay admitted he sensed a no-hitter was within reach.
“You’re definitely closer,” he said. “I think as soon as you try and do it, it kind of takes you out of your plan a little bit. I was definitely aware of it, knew what was going in in the fifth or sixth inning.”
Ruiz felt it earlier.
“Warming up in the bullpen, it was like, ‘Wow.’ Everything was working in the bullpen. His stuff was so good he could have pitched another perfect game,” said Ruiz.
For each of Halladay’s gems, “everything” included cutters, sinkers, changeups and curveballs. Command of each was exceptional.
In most no-hitters, there is a defensive gem or two that plays a role. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins made two excellent plays and right fielder Jayson Werth a nice catch on the only hard-hit ball by the Reds.
Pitching coach Rick Dubee felt his ace was better against the Reds than the Marlins.
“I thought he had four pitches, never really lost any of those four,” said Dubee. “He had four pitches throughout nine innings that he pretty much could throw at any time and to both sides of the plate. He was like that in Miami but he wasn’t as consistent.”
The no-hitter was the first in Citizens Bank Park history. And it was the first time the Reds were no-hit since 1971 by the Phillies’ Rick Wise.
One final note: Halladay had more hits than he allowed. He had a run-scoring single in a three-run second inning against Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez.