Halladay Tosses No-Hitter, Leading Phillies Over Reds

The baseball playoffs are off to a historic start. Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter Wednesday night, in the first game of his team's National League Divisional Series. It's just the second no-hitter ever in post-season baseball. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Tom Goldman about the game.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

I'm Robert Siegel.

And how's this for a start to the baseball playoffs?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

LOUISE KELLY: Halladay is one strike away. The 0-2. A bouncer. Ruiz. In time. Roy Halladay has thrown a no-hitter.

SIEGEL: Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds tonight. That sound courtesy of TBS. It is just the second no-hitter in postseason history. Don Larsen threw the other one, a perfect game back in the 1956 World Series.

NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman is with us.

And, Tom, quite a performance from Halladay this evening. Tell us about it.

TOM GOLDMAN: Not bad for your first postseason starting pitching assignment, Robert, which this was for Roy Halladay. He's in his 13th Major League season. This was his first playoff start, and he throws a no-hitter.

He dominated the Reds who happen to be the best hitting team in the National League this season. He dominated them with his fastball and a great breaking slow curve. He only allowed one runner. He walked Cincinnati's Jay Bruce with two outs in the fifth inning, and he struck out eight. And he made it just look easy.

Although, as we heard in that clip, when catcher Carlos Ruiz threw out the final batter - he deserves a lot of credit for that last out because the Cincinnati batter just made contact with the ball and dribbled in front of home plate and came to rest next to the bat. And Ruiz had to grab the ball, not the bat, and throw around the batter as he was running the first base, but he did it, and the celebration began.

And this was the second no-hitter this season for Roy Halladay. In May, he threw the 20th perfect game in Major League history. Halladay became just the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same year.

SIEGEL: And we should say in this game, hardly any of the Reds got any good wood on the ball. It was just masterful.

What did Roy Halladay have to say after the game?

GOLDMAN: Well, in his on-field interview moments after last out, he was extremely calm, which is not surprising for a guy who is so locked in just moments before. There were no tears, no huge emotion, and that's really consistent with who he is.

He said, I felt like we got in a groove early. When he says we, he means he and catcher Carlos Ruiz. He said, Carlos had been great all year. He helps me into my rhythm early, throwing strikes. So every chance he got, he praised Ruiz. And Halladay said it was great, but what he really wants is more Philadelphia victories and ultimately a World Series title.

SIEGEL: And as you said, Roy Halladay is a pitcher who has been recognized as great for several years, but this is the first time he's made it to the postseason, because he joined the Phillies this year. Before that, he was never on a team that was in contention this late.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's amazing. I mean, he played 12 years in Toronto. And by all accounts, he was happy there. He was comfortable. Well-liked by the fans, a dominating pitcher, as you say, but he wanted a chance to win. And Toronto helped arrange a deal with Philadelphia, a place for Halladay, felt he had a good shot. And look at him, making the most of it right off the bat. He's legendary for being meticulous, for always thinking about baseball, doing what he can do to get better.

Here's a quote from a recent article in ESPN.com. Halladay said, complacency is something that can make you peak. If you can avoid that, you'll always feel like you have something else to reach for and go for. As long as I can avoid that feeling of being happy with what I've done, that's the fun part.

SIEGEL: NPR's Tom Goldman on Roy Halladay's no-hitter to open up the 2010 playoffs.

Tom, thank you very much.

GOLDMAN: My pleasure.

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