Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to Doctober!

Roy Halladay waited a long time to pitch in the postseason. Now that he's in, he's sure making the most of it.

Halladay made baseball history, throwing a no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, who just happened to have the highest-scoring offense in the National League. That put Doc on a very select list: he and Don Larsen are the only pitchers ever to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs (Larsen, of course, threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series). On top of that Halladay got an two-out RBI single in the second inning, which allowed Shane Victorino to drive in two more runs and give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. (In other words, Halladay had one more hit and RBI than the entire Reds offense, not to mention Don Larsen, who went hitless in his perfect game.)

They wouldn't score again, but they wouldn't need to, as Halladay thoroughly dominated a dangerous Reds lineup, his only blemish being a walk to Jay Bruce. Usually in a no-hitter, there are a few plays where the pitcher gets some help from the defense. A diving catch, ball dug out of the dirt at first, etc. Dewayne Wise's catch to preserve Mark Buerhle's perfect game last year comes to mind. But Halladay didn't need anything extraordinary from his defense.

Reds pitcher Travis Wood had a sharp line drive to right field in the third, but it was right at Jayson Werth, and in the sixth Juan Francisco had a fairly hard hit grounder up the middle that was slowed by the mound and fielded easily by Rollins. And then there was the final out - a dribbler in front of the plate that Carlos Ruiz dug out and fired to first about a step ahead of Brandon Phillips. But that was as close as the Reds got. Halladay made it look as easy as a pitcher can. All in all, just an incredible performance.

The offense did its part as well, though it was not exactly dominant. They made Edinson Volquez throw a lot of pitches early. Victorino hit a one-out double in the first inning, stole third, and scored on a Chase Utley sacrifice fly, then he struck again in the second inning for two RBI. That was enough to chase Volquez but the Reds bullpen shut the Phillies down for the rest of the game. It may have been a simple lack of urgency from the position players, who may have been watching Halladay throw a game for the ages, just like the rest of us. And it is worth noting that Utley and Howard hit back-to-back deep fly balls that might have gone out had it not been for a hard wind blowing in, but still, not the most encouraging performance.

But in the end of the day, no one will remember that. They'll just remember Roy Halladay and the debut of a lifetime. Welcome to October, Roy.