Fish On the Wrong Side of History

"It's Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball. It's not embarrassing."

Sunday, May 30, 2010  |  Updated 7:38 AM EDT
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Every pitcher will tell you a perfect game can't happen without some help from your teammates.

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Stoic as always, Roy Halladay's expression never changed. Until the end, that is.

Until there was history — a perfect game, the marquee performance of his All-Star career.

The Phillies' ace threw the 20th perfect game in major league history Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium, beating the Marlins 1-0 thanks in part to a single Florida error in the outfield.

His line -- no runs, no hits, no walks and no base runners on 115 pitches. 27 up and 27 down.

"It's never something that you think is possible," Halladay said. "Really, once I got the two outs, I felt like I had a chance. You're always aware of it. It's not something that you expect."

And once again, the Marlins were on the wrong side of history.

Halladay struck out 11, cheered by a crowd of 25,086 throughout much of the night. Later, Vice President Joe Biden dialed up the Phillies' clubhouse to offer his congratulations when it was over.

"You've got to take your hat off to Doc," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's why he is who he is. That's what they got him for."

The Marlins said they would give Halladay the pitching rubber as a souvenir, leading to a slightly surreal scene: the lights at Sun Life went out and fireworks began exploding two minutes after the game ended, with the field crew preparing for a postgame concert behind second base while four men went to work on the mound, digging up the slab where Halladay made history.

"Look who's pitching," Marlins outfielder Cody Ross said. "It's Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball. It's not embarrassing."

It was the second time the Marlins had been no-hit in their history, the lone other coming by the Dodgers' Ramon Martinez on July 14, 1995 -- and it might not have come off were the Marlins not the Marlins.

The Phillies' lone run off Josh Johnson was unearned when Chase Utley's fly to center stopped Cameron Maybin in his tracks before he backtracked toward the wall. Maybin reached, but the ball skipped off the top of his glove, a three-base error.

"It's one of those things where everything has to go right and it did," Maybin said. "J.J. did a great job of competing. Unfortunately, one play...that was the ballgame."

Unshakable on the mound, not even three-ball counts fazed Halladay.

He went to either 3-1 or 3-2 counts seven times, twice in the game's first three batters alone, and always worked out of the trouble. Chris Coghlan tossed his bat aside on the Marlins' first plate appearance of the night, thinking he'd drawn a walk, only to hear plate umpire Mike DiMuro call strike three.

Coghlan wasn't pleased, and that was a theme for the Marlins throughout.

"I thought they were balls, that's why I took them. But obviously they're too close to take," Coghlan said. "I don't want to talk about the strike zone because that's discrediting what he did."

Hanley Ramirez had the same issue two batters later, stepping toward first after thinking a 3-1 pitch missed the zone. It hadn't, DiMuro said, and Ramirez wound up grounding out.

That was just the start.

Jorge Cantu went to a 3-1 count in the second before striking out on a foul tip. Dan Uggla had a three-ball count before a flyoutr in the fifth, and Maybin added drama in the sixth.

Maybin showed bunt twice, drawing a small chorus of boos, and eventually worked his way ahead 3-1. He ended up hitting a hard shot to deep short, where Valdez fielded it on a hop and threw to Howard in time to beat Maybin by a half-step — umpire Tim Welke taking a big swing to indicate the out.

For the Marlins, Johnson threw a career-high 121 pitches in seven innings, giving up seven hits, one unearned run, one intentional walk and striking out six.

His night was stellar — and didn't even come close to comparing to his counterpart.

"He's the best right-hander in the game," Johnson said, "and he kind of proved it."

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