Oct. 6, 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds.
“Doc” had nine days to prepare for his first career postseason start and the result was near perfection. Halladay didn’t throw a first-pitch ball until the third inning. Even that pitch was right down the middle.
Of the 28 batters Halladay faced, he fell behind only six times. Halladay stuck with his sinker and cutter early in the counts through the first four innings and then began relying more heavily on the curveball as the game moved along.
No matter what he threw, there was a good chance it was strike on the corner of either side of the plate.
Ranking Halladay’s best sequences is a silly exercise because all 28 at-bats against the lethal Reds lineup were brilliant. Halladay was even squeezed on two close pitches when he walked Jay Bruce in the fifth.
Nevertheless, here are five incredible sequences from Halladay’s postseason no-hitter.
Fourth inning with one out vs. Orlando Cabrera
- 93-mph sinker inside for a called strike.
- 79-mph curveball on the lower outside for a swinging strike.
- 85-mph split-finger changeup and a heavy whiff.
This was the at-bat that indicated Halladay was on the verge of something special.
Half of Halladay’s eight strikeouts were on just three pitches and this was the first of four. He brushed Cabrera off with a sinker that snuck back to the inside part of the plate for a strike. Then he came after him with his fourth curveball of the game — a 79-mph pitch that broke arm side at the last second. Halladay then finished Cabrera off with a pitch he had just got around to perfecting that year — a split-finger change.
Fifth inning with one out vs. Jonny Gomes
- 78-mph curveball on the inside corner for a called strike.
- 78-mph curveball on the lower outside for a swinging strike.
- 78-mph curveball in the dirt for a swinging strike.
Halladay’s plan of attack against Jonny Gomes was simple but the decision to attack with three straight curveballs was intriguing. Through the first four innings, Halladay threw only four breaking balls. That number jumped to 17 in innings five through nine. He actually shook off Carlos Ruiz on the third pitch.
Doc’s former pitching coach Gil Patterson classified his curveball as two to eight as opposed to 12 to six or 11 to five.
“So not only did you have to worry about depth, you had to worry about it going from right to left,” Patterson said in Todd Zolecki’s book Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay.
Notice the TBS pitch tracker at the bottom of the screen at the end of the at-bat. Halladay was so good at controlling the horizontal and vertical movement of his curveball that he played tic-tac-toe with the strike zone.
Seventh inning with one out vs. Joey Votto
- 91-mph cutter inside for a ball.
- Votto calls time.
- 90-mph cutter middle-in for a called strike.
- Votto calls time again.
- 93-mph sinker in the exact same spot as the cutter that’s hit foul.
- 93-mph sinker on the lower outside hit for a groundball to Wilson Valdez.
The infamous Joey Votto at-bat came with one out in the seventh. Surprisingly, this was the third consecutive batter Halladay fell behind. Votto saw this as an opportunity to break the no-hit bid.
“What I was thinking before that at-bat was that I need to throw him off in such a way that maybe he gets raddled and hits me,” Votto said in a 2019 MLB Network feature.
This was a matchup that pinned the eventual 2010 NL MVP with that year’s NL Cy Young Award-winner — and the MVP was looking to get hit with a pitch. Halladay’s plan of attack wasn’t paticularly special. He actually left two pitches in the middle of the plate but Halladay did such a good job of getting after Votto with his cutter in the previous at-bats that Votto was left befuddled the third time around.
A year later at the All-Star game, Halladay told Votto he wanted to kill him for stepping out of the box twice in that at-bat.
Seventh inning with two outs vs. Scott Rolen
- 91-mph cutter inside for a called strike.
- Another inside cutter for a strike.
- 93-mph sinker dropping to the dirt that was fouled off.
- 79-mph curveball outside and in the dirt for a ball.
- 91-mph low-and-outside cutter for a ball.
- 78-mph disgusting curveball for a swinging strike.
- Doc’s patients go wild.
Scott Rolen sent his former teammate a text before the game.
“Don’t be scare that we’re here.”
The Phillies’ homegrown star turned bitter enemy struck out three times against Doc. The Phillies fans loved every second of it.
Halladay had Rolen in a 1-2 hole in every at-bat but he had a bit of trouble putting him away for the third and final time. He attacked the Reds’ four-hole hitter with cutters the first time and sinkers the second time.
With two cutters inside, Rolen was already down 0-2. He fought off a sinker, resisted a few pitches inside and was annihilated by one of Halladay’s left-to-right curveballs that was so vile, the cops gave it a ticket for an illegal U-turn.
Ninth inning with two outs vs. Brandon Phillips
- 92-mph sinker middle-away for a called strike.
- 91-mph outside cutter for a swinging strike.
- 78-mph low-and-outside curveball that bounced in front of the plate off the bat.
It’s only fitting that Brandon Phillips stood in the way of Halladay throwing only the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history.
When preparing for games, Halladay tried to figure out what the hitters were thinking. He struggled to do that with Phillips, according to the book Doc.
Halladay laid out a first-pitch sinker to Phillips in the middle of the plate. It was his best chance to get a knock but with the way Halladay was going, he probably would have just hit a weak groundball towards Chase Utley at second base.
Doc shook off Chooch, who then put down two fingers for the cutter away. Phillips and the Reds were down to their last strike. The team that led the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs were a pitch away from going hitless through nine innings against one of the best to ever throw a baseball.
Phillips threw the end of his bat towards an outside curveball and bounced it in front of Ruiz. With a bat in front of him and little time to waste, Chooch threw a strike from his knees to Ryan Howard for the final out.
“No speech. Let’s win two more.”
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