Perhaps the most surprising thing about Halladay's no-hit, one-walk, near-perfect game was that so few of his teammates seemed surprised. They had seen Halladay pitch a perfect game May 29 against the Florida Marlins, so they knew he was capable of closing down all avenues to first base.
"He probably prepared more than anybody in the history of the major leagues for that start, and it showed," Madson said. "It was just a lot of fun to watch, and I was excited for him, but he's all business. He's already preparing for his next game."
Madson admitted that tension had been high in the bullpen, and said he had been particularly nervous because he was not in Florida for the perfect game.
"We weren't talking about it," Madson said. "We were talking about the guys dressed up out there. We were talking about the fans. We weren't talking about baseball."
The fans dressed up just beyond the bullpens in center field were "Doc's Patients," but Halladay's only surgery on this night was being performed on a Cincinnati lineup that led the National League in runs.
Regardless of the vantage point for Halladay's special performance, the perception was the same. The Phillies' ace among aces threw 104 pitches, and 79 were strikes. He struck out eight batters using all four of his pitches with a balanced artistry and pinpoint control. Twenty-five of the 28 batters he faced saw first-pitch strikes. Halladay threw his fastball 41 times, his cut fastball 31 times, his curveball 22 times, and his change-up 10 times.
The first sign that Halladay's cut fastball was working came in the opening inning when he jammed MVP candidate Joey Votto and broke the slugger's bat.
"Everything was working," Madson said. "He was pounding the strike zone early. If they didn't swing, it was a strike, and if they did swing, they couldn't put a good swing on it. He just had everything working."
That was what catcher Carlos Ruiz saw from behind the plate, too. When asked what pitch was working best for Halladay, he agreed that they were all equally difficult for the Reds' hitters.
"Everything was good," Ruiz said. "His split-finger was good. His curveball. Everything was working today. We'd throw anything in any count. We'd throw 2-1 curveballs because he had a very good curveball."
Again, the pitcher and catcher were in sync. Ruiz said Halladay had not shaken him off until the final at-bat of the game. With Brandon Phillips at the plate and the pitcher one out away from the no-hitter, Halladay shook off a fastball and threw a cutter. The final out came on the next pitch, a curveball that Phillips tapped in front of home plate.
Ruiz said he "was panicking" when he had to go in front of the plate to handle the dribbler. His mission became more complicated when the ball hit Phillips' discarded bat. Ruiz went to his knees and threw a strike to first baseman Ryan Howard.
Howard said he hadn't known how to react to Halladay's latest brush with brilliance.
"I was like, 'What do we do now?' " he said. " 'Do we go in and celebrate? Do we try to keep it a business-type attitude?' I was just trying to get him the ball. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw everybody coming out of the dugout, and I figured I might as well join in."
Halladay, after being mobbed by his teammates on the field and receiving a standing ovation upon his arrival in the postgame clubhouse, stayed in character.
"He said, 'Let's win two more,' " Madson said.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.