A Roy Halladay gem was unlike any other. Most of the dominant pitchers of the mid-2000s -- the Lincecums, Verlanders and Sabathias -- worked like an avalanche, but Halladay was death by 1,000 impossibly precise cuts: eight innings of called third strikes and weak dribblers and exasperated hitters. The phrase "Maddux 2.0" should not be thrown around lightly, but when he was on, Halladay came closer than anyone. And in Miami on May 29, 2010, Doc wasn't just on -- he was perfect.
2010 was Halladay's first season with the Phillies, and he wasted no time terrorizing the National League: In his first two months, he put together four complete games, including two shutouts, while pitching to a 2.22 ERA. A date with the struggling Marlins already seemed like a mismatch on paper ... and then, well, Halladay just decided to make it unfair.
To demonstrate, let's play a quick game of "How often will Carlos Ruiz have to move his glove?" (Note: It is not a lot):
Doc sat down 11 Marlins in all, and six of those were backwards K's. It was the Platonic ideal of a Halladay start: so ruthlessly efficient that he needed more than 12 pitches in an inning just twice, reaching only seven three-ball counts all night. "I felt like [Ruiz] was calling a great game up until the fourth or fifth, and at that point, I just felt like I'd let him take over," Halladay told MLB.com after the game. "I'd just go out, see the glove and hit it."
The old saying goes that every bid for a perfect game at some point needs that one Great Defensive Play, but in Halladay's case, he was so good that his defense was the only thing that threatened to derail him. In the bottom of the third, both center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth started tracking a lazy fly ball in the gap ... and kept tracking it, kept tracking it, and LOOK OUT, GUYS:
From there, Doc just put it on cruise control, missing barrel after barrel. Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb gave everybody a scare in the bottom of the ninth, driving one to deep center -- but Sun Life Stadium was a pitcher's dream, cavernous between the gaps, and Victorino tracked it down with relative ease. And at that point, it was all over but for the celebrating:
Halladay tossed his perfecto just twenty days after Dallas Braden threw his in Oakland, the shortest such span since the first two in 1880 (!). Amazingly enough, though, baseball would come awfully close to another one just four days later: on June 2, when Armando Galarraga came one missed call short.
For Doc, though, it was the cherry on top of a remarkable multi-year run. His time in Philly (and, ultimately, his career) came to an end far too quickly thanks to shoulder problems, but at the height of his powers, he was the very best in the game -- and one of the most uniquely gifted artists the game has seen.