Doc's playoff no-hitter topped year of gems
Braden, Jimenez, Garza, Jackson also made history in 2010
PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay's offseason workouts have begun, but as 2010 comes to an end, the memories linger.
Five pitchers enjoyed perfect games or no-hitters this year -- Detroit's Armando Gallaraga infamously had a perfect game snatched from him on a blown call June 2 against Cleveland at Comerica Park -- but nobody enjoyed both like Halladay. He threw the 20th perfect game in baseball history May 29 in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. And a little more than four months later, in his first postseason start, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, blanking the Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park.
Halladay does not like to focus on individual accomplishments, which is why he has said one of this year's biggest thrills was throwing a complete game in September when the Phillies clinched their fourth consecutive NL East title.
Halladay waived his no-trade clause last December to sign a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Phils. He left millions on the table, which he would have gotten in free agency, had he remained in Toronto another season. But he wanted to join the Phillies immediately. He wanted to win. So when he looks back at 2010, he remembers more than just the perfect game and no-hitter.
"I think moving forward, there's parts of the season you're going to enjoy, parts of the season you're going to remember," Halladay said. "But I think the one thing that sticks out there is trying to win. I think that is going to be the overwhelming thing for me this winter. If we won, I might have retired. I don't know. To be able to have that anticipating looking forward, I think that's going to be the overwhelming thing for me."
He was kidding about retirement, right?
"Yeah," he said.
But the perfect game and no-hitter were more than just individual moments. They helped the Phillies win their fourth consecutive NL East title and a third consecutive trip to the NL Championship Series.
Four other pitchers could relate to Halladay's highs this year.
Rays right-hander Matt Garza's no-hitter against the Tigers on July 26 at Tropicana Field helped the Rays win the American League East (the Rays beat the Yankees by one game). He walked one and struck out six.
Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez jump started the year of perfect games and no-hitters April 17 at Turner Field, where he walked six and struck out seven Braves.
A's lefty Dallas Braden became one of the unlikeliest pitchers to throw a perfect game, which he did May 9 against the Rays at McAfee Coliseum. Braden had not been highly touted like Halladay, Jimenez or Garza, but he was perfect to join an exclusive club.
D-backs right-hander Edwin Jackson had dominating stuff June 25 at Tropicana Field. He just didn't know where it was going all the time in his no-hitter against the Rays. Jackson walked eight, hit one batter, struck out six and threw 149 pitches before recording the final out.
The perfect game from Braden and the no-hitters from Garza, Jimenez and Jackson were special moments for each pitcher and each team, but Halladay's dominance against the Reds in the postseason topped them all.
Teammates afterward said it was obvious Halladay had better stuff Oct. 6 against Cincinnati than May 29 against Florida. There is no reason to dispute that. Halladay broke bats. He had Reds hitters shaking their heads as they returned to the dugout. There might have been two balls hit hard the entire night.
Halladay dominated when it really, truly mattered most. He allowed just one baserunner, when he walked Jay Bruce in the fifth inning.
Otherwise, it was complete dominance.
"The longer you play, the more you think about having that chance and being able to be involved in it," Halladay said that night. "It's been fun to do here because of the atmosphere and the guys on the team. It's been really everything that I hope it would be. It's something that I've looked forward to, and obviously very glad I got the chance."
The smiles could not be wiped from the faces of his teammates in the clubhouse.
"Pretty good pickup," Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard joked.
"Was that a video game out there or what?" rookie outfielder Domonic Brown said.
"It was just great," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "We'll keep it simple. Simple and classy. That was awesome."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.