The first time I ever watched Roy Halladay pitch live was when I was in college at Michigan State. For one of my specialized journalism classes, we actually took a "field trip" to Comerica Park to take in a ballgame, talk to experienced reporters and do a mock interview setting with a couple of Tigers players. The real fun began when all that class stuff was out of the way before the game.
During that game on September 17, 2003, I sat about two or three rows behind home plate and watched Halladay simply baffle Detroit’s hitters. I can still visualize that up-close look at the drastic break on his curve and sharp bite on his cutter and two-seamer. His line that day: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 7 K. Well, on Tuesday night here, it was classic Halladay once again.
The Angels just looked helpless at the plate tonight. Sure, they squeezed out five hits — one passed the glove of a diving Aaron Hill, another on a bunt, one more of the infield variety, and two legit hits to the outfield. Other than that, Halladay was masterful: 13 outs via grounder, including 10 between the fourth and ninth. He faced 30 batters and 19 had their at-bats come to a close with three pitches or fewer — four on the first pitch, 10 on the second and five on the third.
After the first inning, only one baserunner advanced to second base — and that was Chone Figgins on defensive indifference in the ninth. The walk to lead off the second was erased on a double play. A leadoff single in the sixth was subsequently canceled out on a fielder’s choice and then a 5-4-3 double play. That inning took a ******** five pitches. There was a single in the eighth, but the runner was stranded and ditto for Figgins at second in the final frame.
All in all, Halladay needed just 99 pitches to turn in his fifth complete game. That’s a big league-best five CGs from a guy who missed three weeks after having his appendix removed in May. At home, Halladay is now 10-1 this season. He only struck out two, but with how early the Halos were swinging, strikeouts weren’t really in the cards.
This, and the 10-inning pitcher’s duel with Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman might be the two best outings of the year for Halladay. The 1:50 gem that he and Chicago’s Mark Buehrle spun in Halladay’s first start off the DL was pretty amazing, too. Geez, not to mention when those two faced off again in Chicago in July.
Needless to say, Halladay has been a joy to cover as a reporter. You can [almost] always bank on it being a quick game. Tonight, it took all of 1 hour and 58 minutes for the good doctor to dispose of the Angels. Then again, it took about half that amount of time for him to finish with his postgame routine before he came out to talk to the media, but I digress…
Where would this team be without Halladay? It’s a blessing for the Jays that he re-upped through 2010, when he could’ve easily opted to test the open market. Can you imagine what kind of cash teams would throw down for Halladay in the current market for pitching? Kind of makes the $12.8 million he’s being paid this year seem like a bargain, doesn’t it?