Roy Halladay and the Top 10 Postseason Moments in Philadelphia Phillies History
In one of the most thrilling moments in postseason history—and what must be the most thrilling moment in divisional series history—Roy Halladay pitched the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS on Wednesday night, becoming the first pitcher to pull off the feat since Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
But where does this feat rank amongst the top 10 postseason moments in Philadelphia Phillies history?
Let's take a look.
Honorable Mention: The Clinchers, 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2008, and 2009
Let there be no doubt about it:
The two most thrilling moments in Phillies postseason history came when Tug McGraw closed the door on the Kansas City Royals to win the Phillies' first World Series and when Brad Lidge closed the door on the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch the second.
The next five most thrilling moments in Phillies postseason history came when the 1915, 1950, 1983, 1993, and 2009 Phillies teams clinched their trips to the World Series.
But this list isn't about that. Rather, this list is about thrilling individual postseason performances, rather than these thrilling ultimate team triumphs.
10. Game 1: Pete Alexander, 1915 World Series
In 1915, the Philadelphia Phillies went 90-52 to win their first-ever National League pennant. In the World Series that season, the Phillies faced off against the mighty Boston Red Sox, who'd gone 101-50 behind Tris Speaker and such pitching greats as Rue Foster, Ernie Shore, Smokey Joe Wood, Dutch Leonard, Carl Mays, and a 20-year-old lefty named Babe Ruth.
But in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, held in Philadelphia, Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander shut the Red Sox down, throwing a complete game and striking out seven while allowing only one run. When the Phils scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth on a Gavvy Cravath groundout and a Fred Luderus single at the pitcher, it was all the Phils needed to take the first game.
Unfortunately, it would be the only game they'd take in a hard-fought series.
9. The 10 Inning Game: Robin Roberts, 1950 World Series
The Phillies made it back to the World Series in 1950, and took on the amazing New York Yankees. After dropping the first game in Philadelphia 1-0, the Phils sent Robin Roberts to the mound to face off against Allie Reynolds.
After giving up a run in the second inning, Roberts shut the Yankees down, scattering five hits through the remainder of regulation.
It was not meant to be; Roberts came out for the 10th, and Joe DiMaggio led off with a home run that proved to be the difference. The Phils wouldn't take a game in the series.
But thanks to Roberts, the Phillies thought they could take those guys in pinstripes for nine innings.
8. Gary Matthews' Three-Run Home Run: 1983 NLCS
The Phillies went to the 1983 NLCS where they faced off against a familiar foe: the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had kept the Phillies from the World Series in 1977 and 1978, and had won it all just two years earlier.
The Phils came into Game 4 of the NLCS having taken two of three from the Dodgers, but everyone in town was on edge at the possibility of the Dodgers forcing a Game 5.
That edge quickly dissapated, however. After Pete Rose and Joe Morgan started the bottom of the first inning with outs, Mike Schmidt and Sixto Lezcano each hit singles, which set the stage for a three-run home run by Gary Matthews.
With Steve Carlton on the mound, the game was never in doubt after Matthews' tone-setter, and the Phils were off to their second World Series in four years.
7. The Catch: Cliff Lee, 2009 World Series
In the most tense of moments, New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon popped up over the mound during the 2009 World Series.
Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee didn't point at it and duck out of the way. He didn't call off the ball.
He didn't even get under it.
Instead, Lee non-chalantly extended his gloved right hand and casually caught ball and got back on the mound.
The play typified Lee, one of the coolest customers in baseball, and made Phillies fans feel like this thing was in the bag.
6. The Double Play: Mitch Williams, 1993 NLCS
The 1993 NLCS was an absolute war between the NL West champion Atlanta Braves, who won an astonishing 104 games, and the underdog Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils stole Game 1 from the Braves before getting crushed in Games 2 and 3 by a combined score of 23-7.
Game 4 featured a dynamite matchup in Atlanta between the Phils' Danny Jackson and the Braves' John Smoltz.
Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Phillies were clinging to a 2-1 lead. Phillies' closer Mitch Williams took the mound knowing that if the Phillies blew this game, their World Series hopes were all but over.
Nevertheless, the Wild Thing allowed a leadoff single to Bill Pecota and then allowed Otis Nixon to reach base on his own error trying to field Nixon's bunt.
The Braves now had the winning run on base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth.
After a Jeff Blauser bunt resulted in an out at third, Williams induced Ron Gant to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and send the Phillies back to Philadelphia tied in the series, 2-2.
5. Use Stairs in Case of Emergency: 2008 NLCS
The Phillies had home field advantage in the 2008 NLCS, and the Phils won Games 1 and 2 in Philly. The Dodgers then took game Game 3 in L.A., and in Game 4 the Dodgers took a 5-3 lead into the eighth inning, looking to even the series.
The Phillies led off the eighth with a single by Ryan Howard, who came home two batters latter on a Shane Victorino home run that tied the score. A Pedro Feliz lineout followed by a Carlos Ruiz single convinced Joe Torre to bring in Broxton to face the Phillies' pinch hitter.
Charlie Manuel brought in 40-year-old Matt Stairs—who'd only played 16 regular season games for the Phils after a late-season trade from the Blue Jays—to pinch hit for Ryan Madson.
With one swing, Stairs delivered the Phils to a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and became a Philly legend.
4. The Four-Run Eighth: 1980 World Series
The Phillies drew home field advantage against the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series, their first Fall Classic in 30 years and third all time.
Going into the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 2, though, the Phils were down 4-2 and facing Royals closer Dan Quisenberry, who'd gone 12-7 during the regular season and led the AL with 33 saves. It looked as though the Phils were about to hand over home field to the Royals on a silver platter.
It was not to be.
Bob Boone started the inning off with an eight-pitch walk, ball four coming on a full count. Dale Unser then promptly doubled Boone home. Pete Rose then followed with a groundout before Bake McBride, Mike Schmidt, and Keith Moreland wrapped out three straight hits to go ahead 6-4.
Ron Reed then closed out the game with little drama, and the Phils escaped with home field intact and went on to win their first World Series title in six games.
3. The Walk: Brett Myers, 2008 NLDS
It isn't often that a pitcher gets walked. It is even less often that he gets walked by a reigning Cy Young Award winner. Even less often still does a pitcher manage to coax a nine pitch at-bat with two outs, finally drawing a walk on a full count to keep an inning alive.
But that is exactly what Brett Myers did against C.C. Sabathia, then with the Milwaukee Brewers, in Game 2 of the NLDS. Sabathia subsequently gave up another walk to Jimmy Rollins before Shane Victorino's crushing grand slam gave the Phils all the runs they would need.
2. Jimmy Rollins' Double: 2009 NLCS
More heroics against Jonathan Broxton and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 2009 NLCS. The Phillies lead the series 2-1, but the Dodgers are leading 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with a victory guaranteeing that the series heads back to Los Angeles.
Jimmy Rollins comes to the plate with two on to face Dodgers' closer Jonathan Broxton.
We'll let Scott Franzke and Henry Hill take it from here.
1. The No-Hitter: Roy Halladay, 2010 NLDS
It is not only one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball's postseason history, right up there with Don Larsen's perfect game, Reggie Jackson's three home runs, Luis Gonzalez's single off Mariano Rivera, Dave Henderson's two-out home run off Donnie Moore, Ozzie Smith's famous home run...
Roy Halladay's postseason no-no instantly becomes one of our nation's pastime's greatest moments, period.
Years from now, when Halladay is being inducted into the Hall of Fame, there won't be a Phillies fan alive who won't remember Game 1 of the NLDS, the greatest Phillies' postseason moment of all time.