The Near-Perfect Storm, the Near-Imperfect Disaster

The Near-Perfect Storm

Now I take pride in my prognostication skills. I am among the worst in the biz, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Toward the end of the 4th inning of the Phillies – Reds game, I felt obliged to tweet. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, @BillyBall, I wish you would because I look at Twitter occasionally for brilliance (no, I don’t care about your meals, or what you are doing with your kids. Really no-one-cares at all.). I wrote, “Bunt, get hit by a pitch, whatever, but the Reds better do something off of Roy Halladay very soon or Don Larsen is going to have company.”

Don, this is Roy. Doc, this is Don. You two should get to know one another because you will be linked in history together for a long time.

It was a near perfect storm for Halladay. He had remarkable, on the black, stuff. Filthy. He had an umpire with a wide strike zone. And, he had an opponent first totally overwhelmed by being in the postseason, then totally overwhelmed by the pitcher they were facing, and finally, overwhelmed with the knowledge that they were going to get no-hit and were unable to do a single thing about it.

Halladay threw the second postseason no-hitter in Major League Baseball history and led the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League division series at Citizens Bank Park. Pitching in the first playoff game of his 13-year career, Halladay was in total command. There were no great plays by his fielders that were necessary. Reds reliever Travis Wood was the only batter to hit a a line drive off of him and right fielder Jayson Werth made a nice running catch.

He threw 79 strikes and 25 balls in 104 pitches. But what I found most remarkable was that of the 28 batters that Halladay faced, he threw a first-pitch strike 25 times, the Reds looked at 16 of them. Halladay struck out eight and only allowed a 5th inning full-count walk to Jay Bruce.

Halladay pitched a perfect game on May 29 and became the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same season, the most recent being the Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1973. Ryan, now the owner and the president of the Texas Rangers, in the meantime, was watching his ace, Cliff Lee pretty much dominate the Rays, 5-1.

Just so you know, the Reds led the NL in runs, hits, homers, and batting average, so these were no slouches. They were not the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, but they are a good hitting club. On the other hand, the Reds have now gone 28 straight innings without scoring a run at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the first time the Reds were no-hit since June 23, 1971, when another Phillie, Rick Wise, also beat them 4-0.

These two teams have the day off today which gives us some extra time to savor this great performance by this great pitcher in one of the greatest moments in baseball history.

Yankees lose, 7-6 in 11 innings

All was going well for the Yankees in Game One of the ALDS against the Twins. Minnesota had gotten to CC Sabathia early and jumped out to a 3-0 lead, thanks in large part to Michael Cuddyer who homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Twins. But the Yankees are a relentless ballclub, and overtook them, 6-4, thanks in large part to Mark Teixeira who homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the New Yorkers.

During the regular season, the Yankees overcame deficits of three runs or more to win seven times, according to STATS LLC, and led the majors with 48 come-from-behind victories and after CC walked home the tying run in the 6th and Teixeira hit a two run homer in the 7th, the Twins went into the 9th trailing New York 6-4 and facing Mariano Rivera.

The first two batters went down but then the impossible, improbable and immoral happened. Delmon Young hit a sinking liner that Yankees right fielder Greg Golson, inserted that inning for defensive purposes, caught for what should have been the last out. But umpire Chris Guccione ruled that he trapped it and the call stood after the umpires huddled. Manager Joe Girardi came out to argue, to no avail, in spite of the fact that every replay showed that the ball was caught.

Up next, came the great Jim Thome and to the screaming delight of the fans at the packed Target Field, on the first pitch he slammed an enormous tying homer. The Twins put together a walk, a bunt, a wild pitch and sac fly to win in the 11th off of Sergio Mitre.

Okay folks, that ending didn’t happen.

Everything that I wrote up to Thome was true, but the great slugger popped up to third for the final out and the Yankees won, 6-4.

But here is the deal, my scenario could have happened and history would have changed because of a bad call that could have been easily corrected with replay. Some day my little tale will be true and some day baseball will change its arcane attitude towards replay. Some day, for one team, for baseball, it will be one day too late.

Did Brian Cashman jump through his television?

As I watched Cliff Lee dominate David Price and the Rays, I could have sworn that I saw Brian Cashman reach through the television with a contract and a pen trying to get Lee to sign to a five-year contract starting in 2011.

Lee improved to 5-0 in six career postseason starts. He went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, including 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA against the Yankees in the Series.

What impressed most though about the Rangers, beyond Lee, was their aggressiveness. Vladimir Guerrero hit a huge RBI double off the center-field wall and Nelson Cruz hit a big homer and both came on 3-0 pitches. Bengie Molina had a big day with an RBI single and homer and Jeff Francoeur hit a run-scoring double.

This is going to be a great series.

By the way

Tomorrow is the 54th anniversary of Don Larsen throwing the only perfect game in World Series history.

More to come, later today.