For 13 seasons, Roy Halladay had waited for this moment, as did the rest of baseball. In 2 hours and 34 minutes Wednesday, he made the most memorable postseason debut ever as the Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-0, in Game 1 of the National League division series at Citizens Bank Park.
"It was a lot of fun," Halladay said, as only he could.
After pitching one of the greatest games in baseball history, Halladay was mobbed by his teammates on the mound. It was a scene that happens in the postseason only when a team wins a series.
And this was just the beginning.
Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history. He stands beside the Yankees' Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, as the only ones to do it.
It was Halladay's second no-hitter of the season. He threw a perfect game May 29 against Florida, a night that became the signature moment of his career - until Wednesday.
The sellout crowd stood, cheered, and waved white towels for much of the final six outs. His teammates didn't move from their positions in the dugout. Fans booed other fans for getting up and leaving their seats for different viewing positions.
In the owner's box, Phillies president David Montgomery sat with other team executives. He didn't move, either.
"You're watching," Montgomery said, "and you say, 'This can't really happen, can it?' "
It did. It happened, and many in the Phillies' clubhouse said Halladay had even better stuff Wednesday than he did on that sticky May night in Miami. On a bigger stage, with the baseball world watching, Halladay was pristine.
The only Reds runner, Jay Bruce, reached on a six-pitch walk in the fifth inning. Incredibly, Halladay threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 28 batters he faced. Of the 104 pitches he threw, just 25 were balls. He struck out eight.
"Absolutely unreal," Charlie Manuel said.
Maybe Rich Dubee, Halladay's pitching coach, said it best.
"The marathon is over," Dubee said. "The 11 years of grinding and working are over. Now it's time to really enjoy it and cherish it. I think he understands that. You work so long to get here. You better be yourself. You might as well enjoy it and run with it. Tonight he did."
The final play was the most dramatic. Brandon Phillips dribbled a ball a few feet away from home plate. It was a sure out. But Phillips' bat landed in the way of the ball, which bounced up against it. Catcher Carlos Ruiz fell to his knees as he picked up the ball and tossed to first to end the game.
"I was definitely panicking because it was the big out," Ruiz said.
There were just two other close calls. In the third, Reds reliever Travis Wood lined out sharply to right. In the fourth, Joey Votto hit a grounder in the hole on the left side that Rollins fielded on the edge of the grass. He threw off his back foot to retire Votto with ease.
Rollins had moved toward the middle of the diamond against Votto, a lefty. But he had seen Votto poke the ball to the left side plenty of times before and expected to move that way. The ball skipped past third baseman Wilson Valdez and into Rollins' glove. He threw from his back foot for the out and then turned to look at Valdez.
"We started laughing at each other," Rollins said.
In the dugout, no one bothered Halladay. Dubee patted him on the back eight times - when he walked into the dugout after each hitless inning. No words were exchanged. Of course, Halladay was the hitting star, too. In the three-run second, he had an RBI single to prolong the inning.
So if that was Roy Halladay's postseason debut, what's next?
"You prepare for the next one," Dubee said. "Knowing Roy Halladay, he'll prepare for the next one."
He will do that as the author of one of baseball's greatest games ever.
Halladay's No-No Makes History
With his 4-0 no-hitter Wednesday against Cincinnati in Game 1 of the NL division series at Citizens Bank Park, Phillies righthander Roy Halladay joined Don Larsen as the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter in the postseason.
Larsen pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers
Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29. He is the fifth pitcher in history to throw two no-hitters in one season, joining:
Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer (1938).
The Yankees' Allie Reynolds (1951).
Detroit's Virgil Trucks (1952).
The California Angels' Nolan Ryan (1973).
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or email@example.com.
Follow him on Twitter @magelb.