Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay has accomplished one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball - throwing a no-hitter in the playoffs. Halladay is only the second pitcher in baseball post-season history to deny the opposing batters a hit.
Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies threw the first no-hit playoff game in 54 years Wednesday to lead Philadelphia 4-0 over the Cincinnati Reds in game one of their National League Division Series.
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was in office, Elvis Presley debuted his hit song "Love Me Tender," and the Dodgers still played in Brooklyn, New York, the last time a post-season no-hitter was thrown in the majors.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel praised the strategy behind Halladay's pitch selection against the Reds.
"He used all of his pitches pretty good," said Manuel. "He mixed them up real well, I think, and that was the part where his command was so great because he did use all of his pitches."
The 1.98-meters-tall Halladay demonstrated his pitching mastery with a razor quick fastball, a change-up, a diving curveball and a pitch called a cutter. He said he was happy with how he played, and commended catcher Carlos Ruiz for his performance.
"I thought we used everything pretty well today," said Halladay. "I know I always go back to it, but Ruiz has done a great job of recognizing early on what is working, what is effective and calling that."
Here is how TBS network broadcaster Brian Anderson called Halladay's history-making achievement in front of a cheering home crowd at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
"Halladay is one strike away ... the oh-two, a bouncer ... Ruiz ... and time! Roy Halladay has thrown a no hitter!," exclaimed Anderson.
Remarkably, this was Halladay's second no-hitter of the year. In May, the Phillies right-hander threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins, keeping all runners from reaching base.
In the National League Division Series opener against Cincinnati, Halladay struck out eight batters, but he was denied a perfect game when he allowed one Reds player to reach base on a walk in the fifth inning. He is only the fifth pitcher in MLB history to throw two no-hitters in the same season.
It was the 33-year-old veteran's first career playoff start, but Halladay said he had no fear before taking the mound against Cincinnati's big bats.
"It is a challenge I have looked forward to," he said. "Excited, I guess, is a better word to describe it than nervous. I was excited. It was a lot of fun to look forward to pitching in this game."
The only other post-season no-hitter was a perfect game pitched by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees in 1956.
The 27-year-old right-hander and future Hall of Fame teammate, catcher Yogi Berra,collaborated to silence the Brooklyn Dodgers' batting line-up in game five of a cross-borough World Series in New York City. Despite having the perfect game pitched against them, the Dodgers went on to win the World Series title with a victory in game seven.
But Halladay said Larsen's record did not enter his mind during the NLDS game because he was concentrating on getting the job done.
"It is hard to explain, but pitching in a game like that, being able to win the game comes first, and that is kind of your only focus until it is over with," he said.
The Cy Young award-winning pitcher admitted he began to fully realize what was happening midway through the game.
"Obviously, you a aware of it the whole time, but I think by the fifth or sixth [inning], you a definitely closer," said Halladay. "I think throughout the whole game though, it indefinitely not something you are trying to do."
Manuel said the quality and variety of Halladay's pitches baffled Cincinnati's batters, especially throwing balls out of the strike zone.
"He had a tremendous feel tonight," he said. "He knew when to kind of bounce the ball, he sold his pitches good, at times low, especially when he got ahead of the hitter [throwing more strikes than balls], and I mean, he is trying to do that. He was real good."
Halladay said throwing a no-hit game in the playoffs is something he will always remember. But taking his success in stride, the Philadelphia star said there will be time to savor his individual record after the post-season is over.
"It is easy to keep your focus on the team, especially at this point in the season knowing we need a couple more wins here to move on," he said. "It is easier for me to keep that focus, I think, than to kind of analyze where those things stack up. I think that is something you do later."
Roy Halladay never reached the playoffs in the first 12 years of his Major League Baseball career with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was traded to the reigning two-time National League champion Phillies last December. Before Wednesday's post-season opener, Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee simply told Halladay if you try to be good you have a possibility to be great.