Halladay gets best of Big Unit

Halladay gets best of Big Unit

NEW YORK -- Were you expecting something else?

Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson dominated the action on Friday night, living up to every ounce of the advance billing. Halladay narrowly outdueled Johnson, leading the Blue Jays to a 2-0 win over the Yankees.

That end result was Toronto's fourth straight win, a streak that comes directly on the heels of a five-game losing skid.

"You never know how they'll turn out, but they did just what you expect," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "It was two Cy Young guys doing their thing."

The pitching clinic could've continued in perpetuity, if not for one well-timed swing. Eric Hinske's two-run homer in the seventh inning provided the final margin -- in fact, it provided the only margin. Both Johnson and Halladay (4-1) wound up throwing complete games, controlling the tempo from beginning to end.

"When two guys are throwing like that, it usually comes down to something like that: one pitch," said Hinske. "That's how good those pitchers are. Halladay had his great stuff tonight and Randy had his great stuff. I definitely feel fortunate and lucky to run into a pitch like that."

It wasn't actually a bad pitch -- it was just somewhat telegraphed. Hinske, who had never faced Johnson before, said he saw a grand total of three fastballs all night. Just about everything else he saw from the veteran was a slider, including the game-breaking homer.

The key moment came with one man on and one man out in the seventh, and Hinske was staring at an 0-2 count. No matter: Johnson (2-2) left a slider over the plate, and Hinske pulled it over the short porch in right field for a two-run lead. The first baseman added a fist-pump when he rounded first base, giving in to the emotion of the moment.

"It was big. You've got a Halladay-Johnson matchup going, and these guys are nasty," said Hinske. "Nobody's scoring at all. You get a guy on and they strike everybody out. That's a big home run right there, and it won the game for us."

That's the way it ended, but the beginning was much more intriguing. Both starters dominated the early innings, holding the respective batting orders to a combined total of five hits in the first five frames. Both lineups pushed three runners into scoring position over that time frame, but neither team really threatened to score.

Toronto's first true chance came in the fifth, when the Jays (13-11) pushed runners to first and third with one out. Frank Menechino swung at the first pitch, though, and rapped into a 6-4-3 double play. The Yankees (9-14) had escaped -- at least for the moment.

"You hope you get another shot, but you know you're not going to get many," said Gibbons. "Those guys have that knack of getting that big strikeout or the big ground ball -- whatever it is. They get things done."

   Roy Halladay  /   P
Born: 05/14/77
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Halladay was doing the same thing on the other side. In fact, if you discount Johnson's one mistake, both pitchers got stronger as the game wore on. After the top of the fourth inning, neither starter threw more than 12 pitches in any inning.

"I really tried to focus on the hitters. You know he's pitching, so you know any mistake might be tough to come back from," said Halladay. "I really just tried to focus on what I was going to do against them. You do that the whole time, just knowing that if you do give up a couple, it might be tough to come back. You're always a little cautious about that."

Toronto's starter allowed just three hits -- two singles in the early innings and a double in the seventh. He got Tino Martinez to ground out, ending the latter threat. He was rarely challenged from there. The Yankees went in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.

The final frame was the most impressive. The Yankee Stadium audience let loose a raucous ovation before the frame's first batter, Gary Sheffield, approached the plate. Halladay struck him out and ended the game on ground balls from Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez.

"It's a lot of fun. The tough part is, you don't really want to show it in this town. It might come back to haunt you," said Halladay. "It was very satisfying -- it's a challenge facing a team like that, and having Randy pitching. Those are the games you dream about going out and playing."

"You've seen that team come back so many times and leave you on the field. Through the years, in the postseason, they've just got that knack," said Gibbons. "And the crowd here helps them. It's not easy. But when the great ones smell it and get a chance to close it out, they usually do it."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.