Roy Halladay extended Major League Baseball’s year of the pitcher by throwing the second no-hitter in postseason history.
Halladay celebrated his long-awaited playoff debut by leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 win yesterday against the Cincinnati Reds on a day that also included dominant pitching by Cliff Lee in a 5-1 defeat by the Texas Rangers of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The New York Yankees were the only team to win with their bats, using a two-run triple by Curtis Granderson and a tiebreaking two-run homer by Mark Teixeira to rally for a 6-4 win at Minnesota on the opening day of the playoffs.
“Game-winning home runs, there’s nothing better,” Teixeira said in a news conference. “Our rallying cry is never to give up. With our lineup, you can be down five or six runs and we can score seven or eight.”
The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound today as they try to build a 2-0 lead against the Twins, who will start former Yankee Carl Pavano. The Rangers and Rays also play the second game of their series today in Florida.
Philadelphia and Cincinnati have the second game of their series tomorrow. The visiting Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants open their National League series tonight.
Halladay, acquired by the Phillies during the offseason after 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, allowed only a fifth-inning walk at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. He also had a run-scoring single as the Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five NL Division Series.
Larsen’s Perfect Game
Halladay, 33, who pitched 346 major league games before making his first playoff appearance, joined Don Larsen as the only pitchers with postseason no-hitters. Larsen had a perfect game in the 1956 World Series for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“It’s surreal,” Halladay said in a televised interview. “I just wanted to pitch in the postseason. To be able to go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”
Lee, who the Phillies traded away as part of a four-team deal to acquire Halladay, improved his postseason record to 5-0 as the Rangers snapped a nine-game postseason losing streak.
Lee, who went 4-0 for the Phillies in last year’s playoffs, struck out 10 batters in seven innings and Texas got home runs from Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina in taking a 1-0 lead in the American League first-round series.
“I enjoy competition, period, whether it be regular season, postseason, playing darts, shooting pool or whatever,” Lee said in a news conference. “I like to compete and I hate to lose.”
Francisco Liriano was working from the same script for the Twins, shutting out the Yankees on two hits through five innings while Minnesota built a 3-0 lead against New York starter CC Sabathia.
Then the Yankees erupted for four runs in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada before Granderson’s triple knocked Liriano out of the game.
The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the inning, only to have Teixeira break the tie in the top of the seventh with a home run off Jesse Crain. Sabathia earned the win and Mariano Rivera got the final four outs for his record-extending 40th postseason save.
“Game 1 is the most important no matter what,” Granderson said in a news conference. “Any time you can go ahead and pick the first game up in a series, hopefully you can keep that momentum going into the next day.”
Halladay’s Perfect Game
Halladay had eight strikeouts against a Reds lineup that led the NL this season in runs, batting average and home runs. A two-out walk to Jay Bruce on a full count in the fifth inning was the only thing that prevented a perfect game.
Halladay did throw a perfect game during the regular season, winning 1-0 against the Florida Marlins in Miami on May 29. It was one of two perfect games this year, the first time that had happened in a season since 1880.
Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics had the other perfect game, on May 9 against the Tampa Bay Rays, and there were three other no-hitters this season -- by Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, Edwin Jackson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Matt Garza of the Rays.
Halladay is the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a year since Nolan Ryan had two of his major league record seven no-hitters two months apart in 1973.
His no-hitter yesterday was the latest highlight in what has been dubbed the year of the pitcher. The earned run averages in both leagues were the lowest since 1992, and home runs were down to their lowest level in 17 years during the regular season.