PHILADELPHIA — The ball just sat there. It was a few feet from home plate, a sure out. But Brandon Phillips’ bat was in the way.
A sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park gasped. Carlos Ruiz fell to his knees. He finally found the ball and threw to first.
Roy Halladay achieved immortality. Again.
The Phillies’ ace threw the second no-hitter in postseason history Wednesday in a 4-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League division series.
He pitched the game of his life twice in one season.
Already having thrown a perfect game May 29 against the Marlins, Halladay did it again — this time allowing just one runner on a walk. Incredibly, Halladay threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 28 batters he faced. Of the 104 pitches he threw, just 25 were balls. He struck out eight.
It’s the second postseason no-hitter ever. The other was a perfect game pitched by the Yankees’ Don Larsen (a resident of Hayden, Idaho) in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Halladay’s would have been a perfect game had he not issued a six-pitch walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth. He was the Reds’ lone base runner.
Halladay is just the fifth pitcher all-time to have two no-hitters in the same season (counting the playoffs). The others: Johnny Vander Meer (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Virgil Trucks (1952) and Nolan Ryan (1973).
There were just two close calls. In the third, Reds reliever Travis Wood lined out sharply to right. In the fourth, Joey Votto hit a grounder in the hole on the left side that Jimmy Rollins fielded on the edge of the grass. He threw off his back foot to retire Votto with ease.
In the eighth, Halladay struck out Drew Stubbs on three pitches to end the inning. The third one was a cutter that a helpless Stubbs just watched fly by him. Halladay slowly walked off the mound as the fans waved their towels.
The fans rose after Raul Ibanez popped out to short to end the eighth. They waited quietly until Halladay finally emerged from the dugout to throw his warm-up tosses.
They chanted “Let’s go, Doc!” as he pumped strike after strike in the ninth. When it was over, the 46,411 fans in attendance stood in amazement as Halladay’s teammates stormed the mound.
Before Halladay allowed a postseason hit, he had one of his own. Ruiz drew a two-out, four-pitch walk in the second. Wilson Valdez hit an infield single up the middle. Halladay followed with a sinking liner to left that bounced right in front of a lunging Jonny Gomes to score Ruiz.
That’s when things turned from bad to worse for Reds starter Edinson Volquez. He walked Jimmy Rollins on eight pitches. Shane Victorino singled to center on the eighth pitch he saw to score two runs.
Volquez’s night was over, having thrown 39 pitches in the second without being able to retire the side.
His counterpart didn’t hit 39 pitches until the fourth. Halladay needed more than 12 pitches in any one inning just two times.
The Phillies jumped on the mound as if they had won a postseason series. Not yet, but Wednesday was a memorable start.