Reds on wrong side of history in defeat
Halladay deals Cincinnati postseason's first no-no since '56
PHILADELPHIA -- The Reds had been waiting 15 years -- since Eddie Taubensee's single near the pitcher's mound in the final game of a 4-0 sweep by the Braves in the 1995 NLCS -- to notch another postseason hit.
They're still waiting.
Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay made history at the Reds' expense Wednesday night, spoiling their triumphant return to October by pitching baseball's second postseason no-hitter for a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of the NLDS at Citizens Bank Park. Halladay, who worked a perfect game vs. the Marlins on May 29, was but one fifth-inning walk to Jay Bruce from being perfect again and matching Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the only other posteason no-hitter in history.
For a Reds squad responsible for the resurrection of baseball's oldest professional franchise, the loss was unthinkable.
"If I was thinking of this scenario, it would be like a nightmare, and I don't like having nightmares," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "This is the last thing on my mind."
In his first postseason start, Halladay made it look incredibly easy as he pumped strike after strike all night to Reds hitters, who had no answer. Of his 28 batters faced, 25 saw first-pitch strikes. Eleven batters started out in 0-2 counts.
Of the 104 pitches Halladay threw, there were only 25 balls.
"When you're trying to thread a needle up at the plate, it's just miserable," Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. "It's not fun being up there trying to hit nothing. Tonight was a nothing night."
There were really only three well-hit balls by the Reds off Halladay in the entire game. One of them was from reliever Travis Wood, who scorched a line drive that was caught in right field in the third inning. Votto hit a challenging grounder to the hole that shortstop Jimmy Rollins nabbed in the fourth. Pinch-hitter Juan Francisco hit a tough grounder up the middle in the sixth that Rollins also collected.
Only Bruce found a way to first base by working his two-out walk in the top of the fifth inning. After reaching a 2-2 count, Bruce looked at a fastball inside and a cutter inside to draw ball four. Next batter Drew Stubbs grounded into a fielder's choice at shortstop to end the only thing that could sort of qualify as a Reds threat.
"He was great all game," Bruce said. "He didn't miss, and if he did, we didn't capitalize. That's the bottom line. He pitched one of the best games of his life."
As good as Halladay was, Edinson Volquez was not while starting his first postseason game for the Reds. He labored from the start and lasted only 1 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs and four hits with two walks and no strikeouts. Of the 11 batters he faced, he had first-pitch strikes only three times.
"I had a problem in the first inning feeling the ball," Volquez said. "It was cold and raining. After that, everything was good."
Already down, 1-0, in the Phillies' second inning, a two-out, four-pitch walk to Carlos Ruiz set up Volquez's early exit. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera made a nice running pick of Wilson Valdez's grounder up the middle but missed with a no-look flip to second base. While not giving up a hit, Halladay notched one of his own with a lined RBI single that fell in just in front of left fielder Jonny Gomes.
"He beat us today. He got the hit, drove in a run and threw a no-hitter against us. He single-handedly beat us," Votto said. "Kudos to him."
After a Rollins walk loaded the bases, Shane Victorino's lined single to center field scored two runs to make it a 4-0 game and end Volquez's outing.
In some nice damage control, Wood pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings and retired his last seven batters in a row. The Phillies did not get another hit in the game after Raul Ibanez's two-out double off of Wood.
But the four-run lead only made life easier for Halladay, who sensed what he was accomplishing. By the sixth inning, he noticed the Phillies dugout getting quieter.
"Yeah, I was definitely aware of it, knew what was going on in the fifth or sixth inning," Halladay said. "After that I was just trying to stay aggressive, [and] make them put the ball in play."
The last time the Reds were no-hit was 1971, when it happened twice within three weeks. Ken Holtzman did it for the Cubs on June 3, 1971, and Rick Wise did it on June 23, 1971 -- for the Phillies. The score of that game was also 4-0.
The crowd of 46,411 fans at Citizens Bank Park got louder as the game moved along, especially with each out in the later innings. Halladay steamrolled the Reds with a seven-pitch eighth inning and a 10-pitch ninth.
In the ninth, Ramon Hernandez popped out to second base. Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo popped out in foul territory behind third base. And the final out came when Brandon Phillips hit a squib in front of home plate. Ruiz grabbed and threw to first base for the historic conclusion. As Phillies players mobbed Halladay, Phillips walked slowly behind the mound and trudged to the dugout.
Being on the wrong end of history wasn't the Reds' biggest concern as they dressed and caught their bus to the hotel. It's worse to be down, 1-0, in the best-of-five series. In the 60 previous Division Series, the team that won Game 1 advanced 43 times, or 73 percent of the time.
"A loss is a loss," Stubbs said. "If we had lost 10-9 and gotten 15 hits, it's the same result. We'll come back Friday with a re-energized effort and hopefully have success."