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On one night, Halladay shows why he's the best

Oct 7, 2010, 2:23 AM EDT

You hate to base anything on one game.

Especially in a sport like baseball, where David Eckstein can be a World Series MVP. Where Craig Counsell can be the guy at the bottom of the dogpile after scoring the title-clinching run. Where Don Larsen, a journeyman pitcher with a career record of 81-91, can become the only pitcher in baseball history to throw a perfect game in the World Series.

But in one game on Wednesday night, Roy Halladay showed why he is the best pitcher in baseball.

Felix Hernandez? Brilliant. CC Sabathia? A strong, tough workhorse. David Price? A dazzling, rising star. But for all the attention those three have garnered in the contentious AL Cy Young debate, none of them would have a prayer if it were simply the MLB Cy Young. Halladay would own it.

Unlike Larsen in 1956, Halladay didn’t catch lightning in a bottle on Wednesday night. He simply did what he always does: carve up bats and mow down hitters. It’s almost boring how efficiently the right-hander can dominate from the mound. This is nothing new for Halladay, who already has a Cy Young award (2003) and seven All-Star appearance on his resume, and who threw a perfect game back in May of this season. The difference is that after 13 seasons in the big leagues, he finally got the chance to show it on the biggest of stages. In his first playoff start.

There were a couple of scary moments on Wednesday night. Jayson Werth made a nice catch to rob Travis Wood in the third inning. Jimmy Rollins made a pair of rangy plays to chase down grounders from his shortstop position. And Carlos Ruiz made perhaps the toughest play of the night, gunning down Brandon Phillips on a tough-angle throw from his knees for the final out.

But for the most part Halladay dominated, painting the corners with filthy breaking balls and fastballs that darted and dove like … well, like breaking balls. His stuff was so electric that Reds MVP candidate Joey Votto was moved to say it was “like trying to hit nothing. He’s an ace among aces.”

Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera was so frustrated that he blamed the umpire, claiming Halladay was “getting every pitch.” Sorry Orlando but the evidence suggests otherwise: of Halladay’s 104 pitches, only one of them was erroneously called a strike.

The day before the game, Halladay said he wasn’t going to change anything in preparing for his first postseason start. And why should he? His work ethic and preparation are legendary, his attitude laudable, his talent unmatched.

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told Danny Knobler of that “the only time I worry about Roy Halladay is if he was stuck in traffic.”

Unfortunately for the Reds, Halladay made it to the park in plenty of time, and he made the night his own. He didn’t catch lightning in a bottle, he was already keeping it there. And on Wednesday night it was unleashed it for the world to see.

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  1. andrewlw - Oct 7, 2010 at 3:56 AM

    Very nicely written. Tonight was the best I’ve ever seen Doc throw. I’ve watched most of his starts from the almost no hitter more then a decade ago to this. He’s no longer a Blue Jay but I enjoy watching him pitch 100% as much as when he was. To quote Mrs. Senfeld “how could anyone not like him?”

  2. Dustin84v - Oct 7, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    Philly waits for the New York Yankees. The World Series is only a few weeks away …

  3. Nikoli - Oct 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    I didn’t see that Cabrera comment until now. Disappointing that he’d break out that excuse. It’s too bad that with TBS’ fancy strike zone tracker thing up there pitch-by-pitch that everyone watching from home saw that this wasn’t the case. Doc was consistently painting the corners all night.

  4. Jonny5 - Oct 7, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    What I love about Roy, besides the fact that he is the best pitcher in the game. Is he keeps giving Carlos Ruiz very high accolades for his work behind the plate. He said something to the effect of Ruiz picking all the right pitches. And when you watch, he rarely shakes off a pitch Chooch calls. On the night of his perfect game, he said he doesn’t think he shook off any pitches the entire game. Not to take anything away from the man’s abilities one bit. But ask yourself this question. Has Roy ever pitched this good in a season? In a park that’s supposed to be and is widely considered a “bandbox”? I’d say no. He does his job, and lets Chooch do his, and look how well it’s working.

  5. TheNaturalMevs - Oct 7, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    It was one game. Series isn’t over yet.

  6. CantRemember64 - Oct 7, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Everyone recognizes the Phillies’ pitching and offense. But the defense is absolutely first-rate, starting from behind the plate with a guy who has only gotten better and better in every facet of the game. Howard’s defense is no longer questionable, Utley is tops, there’s no perceptible loss when they change shortstops, Polanco seldom fails to make a play at third and the outfield matches up with anyone, especially center and right. And with the exception of the White Sox opening day, no team has more highlights of defensive plays by the pitcher than Philadelphia.
    Combine this defense with pitching and potentially explosive offense and it’s nearly the complete package. Layer on a team-wide ‘expectation of excellence’ and it’s really impressive.
    The rest of baseball should offer prayers of gratitude that Cliff Lee was traded away, otherwise the mercy rule would have been invoked mid-August or so.

  7. Flyinghigh - Oct 7, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    “It was one game. Series isn’t over yet”.
    Dude it’s over. Not only won’t the Reds not win a game they won’t reach double digits in hits for the series.

  8. doctorfunke - Oct 7, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    I think I may now dislike a team more than the Yankees, and it’s all because of the relentless pole polishing being done by all of the Phillies fans on this site. They are a great team and Roy is an amazing pitcher, but wow, were one game into the playoffs and these guys are already planning on which cars they are going to light on fire during the inevitable post series clinching riot.
    Go Reds, Giants, Braves, Twins, Rays and Rangers.

  9. SgtRoc99 - Oct 7, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    Yes it was only one game, but we “polish” because we have watched this kind of command all season and we know that oswalt and hammels are right behind Doc. Awesome pitchng, offense, and defense. Hate us all day long, we still like our chances…

  10. parickson - Oct 8, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    If you watched this match , Then you would like know it why is he best . It was good and entertainment match. in this match, they gave their best performance,therefore they won.NO3 Max Pump

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