Coming off his worst outing of the season and surrounded by a team struggling to score runs, Roy Halladay was determined to get things righted tonight with a strong performance against the Florida Marlins.
Although his Phillies teammates could scratch out only one run, Halladay etched his name in the baseball annals by hurling the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.
27 up, 27 down!
The big right-hander added his name to the prestigious list in convincing fashion. Halladay pounded the strike zone, relying heavily on a 93-94 mph fastball with heavy action from start to finish.
Marlins' hitters were largely over-matched throughout the contest, with very few balls even having a chance to be a hit. On the few occasions they were, Halladay's defense was up to the challenge.
Phillies' shortstop Wilson Valdez ranged deep into the hole in the bottom of the sixth inning and gunned out speedster Cameron Maybin at first by half a step. In the eighth inning, it was third baseman Juan Castro stabbing a sharp one hopper with a dive to his left and spinning to nail Jorge Cantu to end the frame.
Then, with two outs in the ninth, Marlins' pinch-hitter, former Phil and reigning Phillies killer Ronnie Paulino struck a bouncer that initially appeared that it might be headed through the hole on the left-side of the infield. Again, Castro ranged far to his left to make the grab, wheeled and fired to Ryan Howard for the final out.
Interestingly, the biggest plays on defense were made by two offseason free agent pick-ups filling in for two reigning Gold Glovers shelved by injuries.
Castro was making his first start of the season at third with regular Placido Polanco sidelined with a sore elbow. Valdez was making his second consecutive start at shortstop for the injured Jimmy Rollins.
Overall, Halladay retired eight Marlins on ground balls and the same number on fly balls. The other eleven he set down via strikes, primarily by painting the corners with hard, sinking fastballs.
After the game, Halladay proved himself to be almost as eloquent off the field as he was elegant on the field.
He praised catcher Carlos Ruiz for a superb job behind the plate and indicated that he followed his lead on pitch selection. Halladay also credited Castro, Valdez, and Chase Utley with making fine plays behind him.
He even passed credit to Jamie Moyer for helping him right his mechanics in a bullpen session yesterday.
As much as he wanted to share the credit, make no mistake about it though— this night belonged to Halladay. With the aid of one unearned run and a few nice plays, arguably baseball's best pitcher further cemented his legacy with a truly masterful game for the ages.
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