Afterward, the Reds could only take comfort in the fact it was only one game, and they won't have to deal with the brilliant righthander in either Friday's Game 2 or Sunday's Game 3.
"It's even more amazing what he did because we're the No. 1 hitting team in the National League," said leftfielder Jonny Gomes, who grounded out and twice struck out swinging. "We've done pretty well coming from behind. We've done pretty good winning our last at bat. We definitely never gave up. Nor did he."
Gomes then indicated how helpless he and his teammates felt against Halladay.
"I mean, my last at bat I was just up there hackin'," he said. "You look up on the board and you see he's thrown only 21, 22 balls by the seventh or eighth inning, so why not hack? But that didn't work for me, either.
"He has three or four pitches he can parlay into six or seven pitches because he can throw them on both sides of the plate. You've got to pick a side of the plate and give him the other side of the plate, but that didn't work either. So you've just got to tip your hat.
"Luckily," Gomes added, "he's not pitching the next game or the following game. We have a chance to turn it around."
Not all the Reds were as complimentary toward Halladay as Gomes. In a corner of the Cincinnati clubhouse, shortstop Orlando Cabrera was clearly disturbed. He felt Halladay had a friend in home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck.
"Another umpire, he [Halladay] wouldn't have thrown a game like that," Cabrera said. "He was getting every pitch. We had no chance. We had to swing."
When Cabrera's complaint was relayed to Halladay, he just shrugged and politely disagreed.
"I thought it [Hirschbeck's strike zone] was good," he said. "I thought really it was a pretty fair zone. There are going to be cases people aren't going to be happy with what's called."
Amazingly, Halladay's first pitch was a strike to 25 of the 28 Reds he faced. He threw 25 balls and 79 strikes, or an average of fewer than three balls an inning. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, who's been a professional player and manager for four decades, said, "That is the best pitched game I've seen since I've been going to the playoffs and World Series."
"The thing about it is, you know, I don't think he threw anything down the heart of the plate," Baker added. "Everything was on the corners and moving."
Baker sensed his team was in trouble early. "You knew probably in the third or fourth inning," he said. "I think it was when you saw his command. I've been on both sides of no-hitters. The deeper the game goes on, you could tell they were feeling it. Their fielders were on their toes. Actually, the best ball we hit was by [pitcher] Travis Wood to right field."
Baker's club is young and has few players with post-season experience. This was the Reds' first post-season game since Oct. 14, 1995, when they were swept by Atlanta in the NLCS. They were shut out, 3-0, by Steve Avery and three relievers.
But that's history and so is Halladay's no-hitter, as far as the Reds are concerned.
"It's only one game," Cabrera said as he quickly stuffed some belongings in a duffel bag. "I don't see them popping champagne over there."
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org