Halladay throws perfect game

Posted: May 29, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Roy Halladay was the last one to walk into the Phillies' clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium. The entire team gave him a standing ovation as he made his way to his locker in the far corner of the room.

"He smiled!" centerfielder Shane Victorino said.

It took a perfect game for the stoic Halladay to snap his humble personality.

"Say something!" the players yelled.

Halladay pointed at his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, and smiled again.

"I don't have anything else to say," Halladay said.

And they all cheered.

Halladay became the 20th pitcher in major-league history and second Phillie to pitch a perfect game. The Phillies defeated Florida, 1-0, on an unearned run in the third inning.

Jim Bunning pitched the only other Phillies' perfect game, a 6-0 victory over the Mets on Father's Day, 1964.

On Saturday, the final out was a ball hit into the hole on the left side. Juan Castro, who had played two innings at third base this season entering the game, made the play, spun around and threw to first to retire pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino.

Halladay pounded his right fist into his black glove and put his arms up as Ruiz ran toward him for a bear hug.

It was over: 27 up, 27 down.

"It's something you never think about," Halladay, 33, said. "It really is. It's hard to explain. There's days where things just kind of click and things happen."

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Halladay made adjustments from his last start - an ugly 5 2/3 inning outing against Boston in which he allowed seven runs. His first step in his wind up was off. Halladay said he spoke to Jamie Moyer about it, too.

"He hasn't been as comfortable in his delivery," Dubee said. "We talked about things. He was locked in tonight. It was one of those exceptional nights."

Said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "He did a hell of a job, man."

The only run scored when Florida centerfielder Cameron Maybin misjudged a Chase Utley flyball, turning it into a three-base error that allowed Wilson Valdez to score in the third.

That was it.

Halladay had seven three-ball counts, including two in the first. Six of his 11 strikeouts - including the final four - were called by home plate umpire Mike DiMuro.

But, really, there were few close plays.

"Was that his first?" Castro asked a reporter as he cracked a celebratory beer.

Yes, it was, but Halladay has been so dominant over his 13-year career that it felt like this should have happened sooner.

"A guy who competes like he does, I'm not saying he has a chance every time, but I'm surprised he doesn't already have a no-hitter," Moyer said.

In fact, in 1998, he carried a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings in his second start in the majors only to have Detroit's Bobby Higginson break it with a home run.

Halladay said he didn't feel as if he had a chance for the perfect game until Paulino stepped up with two outs in the ninth.

Before the bottom of the ninth began, Halladay was in the on deck circle when the Phillies finished batting. He took off his helmet and gloves, walked slowly through the Phillies dugout as everyone moved out of his way. He walked onto the field to cheers.

The 25,086 at Sun Life Stadium didn't sit down for the rest of the game.

The hardest hit ball off Halladay followed. Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb hit a deep fly ball that Shane Victorino easily caught on the edge of the warning track for the first out in the ninth.

"I was going to do whatever it took to catch that," Victorino said.

In the eighth, Jorge Cantu hit a screamer to third. But Castro made a great play going to his left to stab the ball and throw Cantu out.

"He hit it pretty good," Castro said. "I was thinking to myself, 'Every little ball that's hit here, I have to dive for it.' I was fortunate to get some glove and catch the ball."

The only other close play came in the sixth when shortstop Wilson Valdez threw out Florida's Cameron Maybin by a half step.

After the game, the team celebrated with beers and loud music. Third-base coach Davey Lopes, 65, a baseball lifer, stood in the middle of the locker room and smirked.

"My first one," he proudly said.

Halladay took a call from Vice President Joe Biden. He ran into Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in the hallway and Loria told him he was having the pitching rubber dug out for Halladay.

And all throughout the postgame madness, Halladay smiled.

"Yeah," Victorino said, "he finally cracked one."


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.

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