Manuel: 'Absolutely unreal'

Roy Halladay acknowledges the crowd after his gem against the Reds. Charlie Manuel (rear) praised his ace's work ethic.
Roy Halladay acknowledges the crowd after his gem against the Reds. Charlie Manuel (rear) praised his ace's work ethic.
Posted: October 07, 2010

As the ballpark shook in a towel-waving frenzy and the mound filled with Phillies wildly embracing history, Charlie Manuel sauntered slowly from the dugout to the field as if he were making a pitching change.

It's not that the Phillies' manager wasn't moved by Roy Halladay's no-hitter. It's just that Manuel's legs don't move nearly as well as Halladay's cutter.

Actually, Manuel moved very little during the final few innings of his Game 1 starter's historic, 104-pitch no-hitter Wednesday night. For one thing, he's superstitious. And for another, with Halladay so overpowering and in command, he didn't have to seek out Rich Dubee, find a luckier dugout vantage point, or communicate with his bullpen.

"That," Manuel joked after his virtual night off, "was great managing."

He said he could see from the first inning of the Phillies' 4-0 victory that Halladay had no-hit stuff. But knowing how seldom this kind of lightning strikes twice in a baseball season, it wasn't until the sixth inning that he started thinking his ace might get another one.

"After about the sixth inning, things got real quiet," said Manuel, "kind of like it did in Florida [for Halladay's perfect game in May]. People just stayed in their seats and sat there and watched the game. He went down in the dugout, sat in his chair and didn't say a word. Then at the end of the inning, he'd go back out on the mound."

The worst moment for the manager came on the final pitch of the win that gave his Phillies a seventh straight victory in the opener of a postseason series. Catcher Carlos Ruiz had to separate Brandon Phillips' swinging bunt from the Reds second baseman's discarded bat before throwing him out at first.

"I saw Chooch kind of groping for the ball and I was kind of pulling for him to pick it up," said Manuel. "If I'd have been catching, I'd have probably picked the ball and the bat up and thrown them both."

Manuel's last-second angst was understandable. Though he's seen almost everything in a baseball career that's spanned nearly half-a-century, two continents and nearly every job imaginable, he'd never witnessed anything like the performance that enraptured the 46,411 fans.

"Tell you what, I've been in baseball 50 years and that's the first time I've seen a guy throw two no-hitters in a year," he said.

A man who doesn't typically gush, Manuel's postgame review of Halladay's performance was as compact, effective and laudatory as the pitcher had been.

"He was tremendous," he said. "Great command. Absolutely unreal."

Asked to dissect the second no-hitter in postseason history, the first in 54 years, a little more thoroughly, Manuel did.

"I felt like he used all his pitches pretty good. He had a good cutter. His change-up was very good. I think he threw enough curveballs to mix things up pretty good. . . . He had a tremendous feel tonight. He knew when to bounce the ball. He sold his pitches good at times. Especially when he got ahead of the hitters."

There were some - admittedly not many - who wondered how Halladay might react to his first postseason appearance after a long and otherwise successful career in Toronto. Manuel was not among them.

He's watched the righthander prepare thoroughly, consistently and rigorously for everyone of his 2010 starts.

"He's been the same ever since I first saw him in spring training," said Manuel. "He goes about his work the same way. He's like a boxer that's got a 10-round fight and he's going to train for 20-25 rounds. That's who he is."

When Manuel, the last to do so, finally reached the mound at game's end, he first sought out Ruiz and hugged the catcher.

"He called a great game," Manuel said. "Every time somebody throws a no-hitter or a perfect game, the catcher gets famous. That's what [former Dodgers catcher] John Roseboro told me."

Then, he pushed aside a few of his players, tapped Halladay on the back and embraced him too. After they unwound, he turned and, walking slowly again, returned to the clubhouse where his thoughts quickly turned to Friday's Game 2.

"Roy had a great game. Everything about it was tremendous and very positive," he said. "Now we've just got to go out Friday and get another one."


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or at ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.

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