Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roy Halladay Is Perfect

Florida Marlins' catcher Ronnie Paulino smashed a ball into the hole between 3rd base and shortstop, and for a brief moment everyone watching the game at Sun Life Stadium, players and fans who were in attendance as well as those of us watching at home here in Philly on television, held our collective breaths.

There had been two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when Paulino came to bat, and the Philadelphia Phillies new ace starting pitcher Roy Halladay had a 'perfect game' going.

This meant not a single batter had reached base during the game. Against the Phillies ace, 26 men had come to the plate with a bat in their hands that night for the Fish. All 26 had returned to the dugout having made an out. No hits and no walks. No one had reached on an error.

So history was in the offing when Paulino struck the ball.


There had been only 19 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball going back well over a century. There had been just one in Phillies franchise history. That was pitched by Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on Father's Day in 1964.

As Paulino's smash left his bat, playing third base was the Phillies regular backup shortstop, Juan Castro. Castro had been inserted as a defensive replacement for regular 3rd baseman Placido Polanco. The move would prove a stroke of genius by manager Charlie Manuel.

Castro quickly ranged to his left, stabbed the hard shot grounder, wheeled, and gunned a throw to first baseman Ryan Howard. The throw beat Paulino easily, and Halladay's historic night of perfection was complete.

The usually calm and reserved Halladay let loose with a big smile as he was embraced by catcher Carlos Ruiz and the rest of his teammates on the mound.

Back in the locker room, his teammates called on him to make a speech. Halladay simply pointed at Ruiz and said "Chooch is the man!", referring to Ruiz' nickname and the fact that the catcher had called pitches during the game.

Ruiz later said that he had learned some lessons regarding the Marlins hitters during an effective start the previous night by Kyle Kendrick. Ruiz decided that he would utilize those lessons in calling Halladay's start.

Whatever it was that Chooch picked up, it worked, and Doc delivered by executing his pitches to perfection. He rarely left the ball out over the plate, needed just a couple of big defensive plays, and struck out a number of hitters on the night.

The Phillies traded for Roy Halladay in the off-season to become a bona fide ace for the Phillies rotation. He has lived up to every bit of the expectations that a veteran former Cy Young Award winner can bring with him.

Though the Phils have struggled somewhat with injuries and inconsistent play, they remain on top of the National League to this point. Halladay is the main reason. He makes the Phillies favorites to win every fifth day. On this particular fifth day, Roy Halladay was perfect.

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