Halladay's No-No, in Historical Terms

The best way I could wrap my mind around the gravity of Roy Halladay’s no-hitter last night was in the scope of its rarity. I’ve been watching dozens, if not hundreds of baseball games a year since I was six years old and had never seen a no-hitter start-to-finish (including, for various reasons, the two thrown by Phillies pitchers since 2003). Not only that, a postseason no-hitter hadn’t happened in 54 years–Halladay’s was not only the first playoff no-hitter of my lifetime, it was the first of my parents‘ lifetimes. For those of you with older parents than mine, here are a few statistical tidbits that might put last night’s wonderful events in their historical perspective.

  • Game Score is a statistic devised by sabermetric guru Bill James to gauge the quality of a starting pitcher’s performance. It starts at 50 and awards points for outs, innings, and strikeouts recorded, and debits for runs, walks, and hits allowed. Anything above 55 or so is good, and anything above 80 is awesome. Halladay’s one-walk, eight-strikeout no-no scored a 94, tied with Don Larsen’s perfect game for the fourth-highest game score in postseason history. The only three starts to score better were Roger Clemens’ 15-strikeout one-hitter in the 2000 ALCS, Dave McNally’s 11-inning complete game shutout in the 1969 ALCS, and Babe Ruth’s 14-inning, six-hit, one-run complete game victory in the 1916 World Series.
  • Roy Halladay became the sixth pitcher to throw a perfect game and a second no-hitter, after Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Mark Buehrle, Addie Joss, and Jim Bunning. None of the previous five had done both in the same season, and none had thrown a no-hitter in the postseason.
  • Halladay’s 104 pitches were the fewest in a complete game shutout in the playoffs since Curt Schilling threw 101 in game 1 of the 2001 NLDS.
  • In the history of baseball, pitchers have made 2,528 starts, with only two no-hitters. In short, a starting pitcher in a playoff game is more likely to pull a winning pick-3 lottery ticket than throw a no-hitter.
  • Six starting pitchers in postseason history have allowed one baserunner or no baserunners in a game: Halladay, Larsen, and four pitchers who all lasted no longer than 1 1/3 innings.
  • In case anyone’s wondering about the next game, Larsen pitched his perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. In Game 6, Bob Turley of the Yankees and Clem Labine of the Dodgers both pitched 9 shutout innings. Labine pitched a scoreless top of the 10th before Turley allowed a walkoff single to Jackie Robinson with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. Larsen’s next postseason start was a win in Game 3 of the 1957 World Series. Larsen held the Braves to two runs over 7 1/3 innings.
  • EDIT: Got another tidbit for you. Roy Halladay is the first pitcher since 2000, the ninth since the implementation of the DH, and the 20th since World War II, to throw a complete game shutout in his first postseason appearance. A complete (I hope) list of those pitchers is below:
  • Claude Passeau, Game 3, 1945 WS
  • Dave Ferriss, Game 3, 1946 WS
  • Johnny Sain, Game 1, 1948 WS
  • Gene Bearden, Game 3, 1948 WS
  • Preacher Roe, Game 2, 1949 WS
  • Jack Sanford, Game 2, 1962 WS
  • Claude Osteen, Game 3, 1965 WS
  • Jim Palmer, Game 2, 1966 WS
  • Wally Bunker, Game 3, 1966 WS*
  • Blue Moon Odom, Game 2, 1972 ALCS
  • Joe Coleman, Game 3, 1972 ALCS*
  • Jon Matlack, Game 2, 1973 NLCS
  • Don Sutton, Game 1, 1974 NLCS
  • Scott McGregor, Game 4, 1979 ALCS
  • Mike Norris, Game 1, 1981 ALDS
  • Bob Forsch, Game 1, 1982 NLCS
  • Mike Boddicker, Game 2, 1983 ALCS
  • Mike Scott, Game 1, 1986 NLCS
  • Bobby Jones, Game 4, 2000 NLDS
  • Roy Halladay, Game 1, 2010 NLDS

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