Almost Perfect

In the end, results matter in October.

There’s no parade for the World Series loser.

We don’t go crazy over a 2-hitter. We marvel over a no-hitter. It’s really not that different.

As Game One of the National League Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds entered the ninth inning, it became Facebook time for everyone.

“GO PHILS!!”

“If you like baseball, you need to watch this game right now.”

Roy Halladay, a pitcher who already tossed a perfect game this year, had a no-hitter going on one of the grandest stages in sports.

Ramon Hernandez started the inning for the Reds. Having grounded out and flied out against Halladay, Hernandez at the very least put the ball in play in his first two at-bats.

Strike one.

Just a perfect pitch that curled up into the strike zone.  Halladay finished the game with 104 pitches and 79 strikes.  Any baseball purist would look at that statistic with awe and reverence.

Popped him up.

Chase Utley gathered under the booming shot and corralled the baseball. One away.

Miguel Cairo,  a veteran in the twilight of his career, hit in the pitcher’s spot. Cairo played with Philadelphia last season in a limited role on a team that advanced to the World Series. One year later, he’s just happy to play in the majors.

Strike.

Cairo’s played for 14 seasons and nine teams.

Ball.

Halladay’s starting to look like the fictional pitcher Billy Chapel, who threw a no-hitter on a Saturday afternoon game with the Detroit Tigers. The only difference between those two characters? Kevin Costner can’t throw a curveball and Roy Halladay is real.

Strike.

The towels wave again. Philadelphia fans know and love their sports. You can taste the excitement.

Ball.

The tension mounts. The fans cheer. It’s just two outs away.

Popped him up. It’s foul, but playable. Wilson Valdez gathers the second out of the inning.

Time stops.

On a misty night in Philadelphia, it almost appears that Harry Kalas is crying tears of joy from heaven as he watches Halladay show his stuff in the postseason.

Brandon Phillips stands between Halladay and history.

Strike.

Can you imagine how Phillies fans are texting each other right now? Have you ever seen so many people cheering in a place they call “The Bank?”

Strike.

It’s real now. Really real. One more pitch to link a guy named Roy with a hero named Don. Just one more pitch and the name Halladay lands on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. One more pitch before people who hate baseball love the name Roy Halladay.

On the ground in front of Carlos Ruiz. There’s trouble. Phillips flies and Ruiz needs to hustle to make a less than routine play. Ruiz heaves it over to Ryan Howard at first base.

Out.

Never has nothing looked more beautiful.

Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter in his first game in the postseason.

What will he do for an encore?

October can be both cruel and kind. On a cool night in Philadelphia, she decided to give a veteran pitcher the moment of his professional life.

In the end, it’s just one game.

Results matter in October.

 

 

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