Phillies ace Roy Halladay made his first-ever post-season appearance in high style against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday by making Major League Baseball history as only the 2nd pitcher to ever pitch a no-hitter in post-season play. The only other holder of that historical distinction was Don Larsen who threw an El-Perfecto at the then Brooklyn Dodgers in the 5th game of the 1956 World Series. The Yankees went on to win that series in the full 7 games. Halladay’s shot at perfection was only marred by a fifth inning 2 out walk to Reds’ rightfielder Jay Bruce. But Halladay got the Reds’ next hitter, centerfielder Drew Stubbs to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning as Halladay’s no-hitter made MLB history and the Phillies shut out the Reds by 4-0 in their NLDS opener.
Halladay’s prowess was not limited to the pitcher’s mound. Nursing a 1-0 first inning lead acquired due to centerfielder Shane Victorino’s 1 out double, his steal of 3rd base and 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly RBI, Halladay’s 2 out second inning RBI single off of Reds’ starter Edinson Volquez was in the center of the Phils’ 3 run second inning which added cushion to the lead, as if “the Doc” really needed cushion.
Halladay threw 104 pitches, a miraculous 79 of them for strikes, in completing his no-hitter. Having gotten Bruce on the 2 out fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, Doc faced the regulation 27 Reds hitters.
He struck out 8 while yielding 12 ground balls and just 6 flies to the outfield. Former Phil 3rd baseman Scott Rolen took an 0 for 3 collar — all strikeouts and leftfielder Jonny Gomes struck out twice.
After Volquez got a groundout and fly out to start the second inning, he walked catcher Carlos Ruiz and then 3rd baseman Wilson Valdez singled to left centerfield putting runners on 1st and 2nd base. Valdez, who has been clutch through the season when he has played replacing Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins or Polanco, was subbing for Placido Polanco who was scratched from the lineup with an ailing back. That brought up Halladay who nailed Volquez’s 1st pitch to leftfield driving in Ruiz with the 2nd Phils run.
From there, Volquez fell apart. He went 3-0 to Rollins before walking him on a full count to load the bases. Victorino chased Volquez with his 2nd single in two innings driving in Valdez and Halladay as the Phils took the 4-0 lead. Rookie reliever Travis Wood entered and got Utley to ground out to 2nd base to end the inning. Wood tossed 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball only giving up a single and walking 1. Two other Reds’ relievers held the Phils hitless through the final three innings but it didn’t much matter. Halladay cruised to his no-hitter tossing but 9 pitches in the ninth to get a pop out to 2nd base, a foul out to 3rd base and 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips’ nubber which Ruiz jumped on and winged to 1st baseman Ryan Howard for the final out sealing the no-hitter.
Cincinnati didn’t come too close to a hit. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins made the toughest play, going deep in the hole and making a strong throw to retire Joey Votto in the fourth.
Pitcher Travis Wood hit a sinking liner to right that Jayson Werth caught in the third. Pinch-hitter Juan Francisco hit a hard grounder up the middle in the sixth, but Rollins scooted over and made it look easy.
The Phils have announced their post-season roster. The big surprise here is the dropping of Kyle Kendrick from the roster in favor of young left-hander Antonio Bastardo. It was previously thought that Kendrick would relieve in the playoffs.
To view the scores of all Wednesday’s playoff games, click here.
The Phils and Reds have Thursday off and renew play at Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park on Friday as Roy Oswalt is scheduled to start game 2 opposed by Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo. The two teams are off on Saturday before switching venues to Cincinnati for game 3.