If there were any doubts how Roy Halladay would pitch in his first postseason start of his career (320 regular season starts), they were thoroughly vanquished after Halladay threw just the second no-hitter in playoff baseball history on Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies defeated the Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, taking a 1-0 series lead. The Reds came into the playoffs 1st in the National League in runs scored, hits, batting average, RBIs, home runs, and slugging percentage. However, none of those stats mattered to Halladay, who faced just 28 batters during game 1, with the only baserunner being a walk issued to Reds’ right fielder Jay Bruce in the top of the fifth inning.
Halladay’s line from Wednesday night: nine innings pitched, no hits, one walk, and eight strike-outs. His ratio of ground-outs to fly-outs: 12-7. All of this came on just 104 pitches, 79 of which were strikes. Of the 28 batters Roy faced, 25 of them saw first-pitch strikes.
Again, this was just the second no-hitter in postseason history. The first of which was thrown by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Halladay becomes the first pitcher in baseball history to throw a no-hitter in the regular season and postseason of the same season.
After all of the hoopla that comes along with a no-hitter, you could sense in Halladay’s eyes after the game that this is not what he came here for. Sure, what pitcher wouldn’t want to accomplish what he did during any game, much less a playoff game. But in his comments afterwards, all he talked about was how he was just happy he could give the team the chance to win. A chance to win this one game yes, but also the chance to keep the playoff push going for a team who enters October as the favorite to win the World Series. It’s that attitude he brings to this team, and more importantly the pitching staff, that makes this still-young postseason run seem so promising.
But Roy Halladay aside, there was still a game to play tonight. If it weren’t for Halladay’s performance, the game ball would have went to centerfielder Shane Victorino. Shane got the scoring started in the bottom of the 1st inning, after he lined a double down the left field line, promptly stole third, and scored on a Chase Utley sacrifice fly to right field. Reds’ starter Edinson Volquez lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks. He threw 56 pitches during his outing, with just 32 being strikes.
The Phillies put together a nice two-out rally in the bottom of the 2nd inning. After Jayson Werth grounded out to third and Raul Ibanez flied out to right, Ruiz walked and fill-in third baseman Wilson Valdez hit an infield single. The man of the night, Roy Halladay, then lined a single to left field, scoring Ruiz and moving Valdez to third. After a Jimmy Rollins walk, Victorino lined a single to center, scoring Valdez and Halladay, giving the Phils a 4-0 lead.
While the Cy Young Award voting has nothing to do with postseason play, baseball writers across the country will be hard pressed to ignore the show Halladay put on Wednesday night. The league leader in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched tied a nice red bow around what will be his 2nd Cy Young season, and his first in as many seasons in the National League. But as he and the rest of the players continued to reiterate after the game, this is just the first game of what will hopefully be a memorable October and early November for the team.
If Halladay and the Phillies need any motivation for the rest of the playoffs, hows this quote from Reds’ second baseman Orlando Cabrera: “He and the umpire pitched a no-hitter. He gave him every pitch. We basically had no chance.”
Game Notes: Placido Polanco was pulled from the lineup tonight due to a sore back, and it is not certain if he will be able to play in Game 2 on Friday night. Wilson Valdez started at third base for Polanco; the Phillies recorded just five hits on Wednesday night, the last being a double by Ibanez in the bottom of the third inning; Rollins, Utley, Werth, and Ryan Howard were 0-14 at the plate collectively, with one walk and one RBI; the Game 1 win is the first of 11 total wins needed to win the World Series