Thursday, October 7, 2010

Doctober starts with a no hitter

Roy Halladay waited his entire life for yesterday. Day after day, game after game, year after year in Toronto and every time it ended the same: done after 162 games.

Halladay made his long anticipated post-season debut last night and he did the unthinkable. No one could have predicted he’d throw the second no hitter in post-season history. Not in his first career playoff appearance, not in hitter friendly Citizen’s Bank Park, not against the NL’s best hitting team during the regular season. But Roy Halladay is a special pitcher.

Following his spectacular performance, in which he was one walk on a 3-2 pitch to Jay Bruce from being perfect again, Halladay once again credited Carlos Ruiz and the team. He would have been justified to bask in the glory that is his tremendous right arm. But that’s just not Halladay’s style.

The Reds were over-matched. The closest they came to a hit was pitcher Travis Wood’s line drive to right in the third inning which Jayson Werth was positioned perfectly for.

“It’s no fun out there,” Cincinnati MVP candidate Joey Votto said. “It’s like trying to hit nothing. He’s an ace among aces.”

An excellent quote from Votto with so much talk of Phillies starting pitchers all year. Roy Oswalt, who takes the ball on Friday, is an ace. Cole Hamels could be an ace. Fans were enraged when Cliff Lee, another ace was traded away in the off-season. With all those names and pitchers and arms, Halladay stands above the rest.

The Doc threw just 104 pitches, 79 for strikes and struck out eight. He also hit an RBI single in his first career post-season plate appearance, on the very first pitch he saw.

The lineup was unspectacular but they got the job done early. Edinson Volquez is the kind of pitcher teams need to get to in the first few innings and they did. Shane Victorino had a great at bat, ending in a double down the left-field line. He got a walking lead on Volquez and stole third easily, and Chase Utley knocked him in for a first inning 1-0 lead.

Volquez seemed to be cruising in the second, retiring Werth and Raul Ibanez for the first two outs, although having to throw a few pitches to do so. Carlos Ruiz worked a walk and Wilson Valdez hit a bouncing ball up the middle. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera fielded but had trouble getting it out of his glove before making a backhanded flip to Brandon Phillips at second base. The toss was errant and both runners were safe, setting up Halladay’s two out, RBI single to left. After Jimmy Rollins worked a walk, Victorino delivered a big two run single to center for a 4-0 lead.

Halladay didn’t need so much run support.

Cincinnati’s bullpen shut down the Phillies the rest of the game, but Halladay was the ultimate shutdown pitcher in this game.

Placido Polanco hopes to be back for game two on Friday after his back tightened up. The bullpen and Oswalt will be very well rested heading into Friday’s start; Halladay made sure of that.

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