A pleasant irony for a Jays fan is that Doc was not totally in vintage form when he retired all 27 Florida Marlins hitters for the Philadelphia Phillies last Saturday. An irony for Canadian ball fans is that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, the guy who killed baseball in Montreal, is actually selling thousands and thousands of unused tickets as keepsakes. Hey, there's profit to be had.
Halladay threw more pitches, 115, than he did in 38 of the 43 nine-inning (or more) complete games that he turned in for the Jays from 2002 through '09. For a Canadian point of reference, Dennis Martinez hurled 96 pitches when he was El Presidente, El Perfecto for the late and lamented Expos at Dodger Stadium on July 28, 1991.
So, Down Goes Brown was not woofing when it Tweeted, "Roy Halladay pitches a perfect game; or, as Jays fans call it, the fourth or fifth best game we've ever seen him pitch." That would make us Jays fans, to play off another Philly sports figure with a medical-profession moniker, the 2010 answer to hoops nuts who claim people only saw the real Julius Erving in the American Basketball Association instead of in the NBA with the 76ers, where he's more remembered.
Doc's perfecto has prompted the inevitable retrospectives on Hall of Famer and U.S. Senator Jim Bunning's perfect game for the Phillies in 1964. (Bunning needed just 90 pitches in that one.) Each did it in his first year with the club after coming over from an American League team. Each was credited with his seventh win of the season. Bunning is one of Halladay's comparables.
Beyond that, it's noteworthy that a few years back, it seemed like Halladay slotted into the Bunning family of pitchers who as Bill James wrote, "are the whole package ... (but) do lose sometimes because they throw strikes, and if you put the ball over the plate sometimes the batter is going to hit it." In 2006, it seemed like -- and perhaps this was giving in to pessimism -- that might work against Halladay's chances of twirling a no-hitter.
More balls in play meant more chances for someone to get a flare, a gork, a ground ball with eyes, one more dying quail. It was less apparent that at that time, Halladay was posting the lowest strikeout rate of his career in '06 (132 in 220 innings, an even 5.4 per nine). He had been sidelined the previous season by a broken leg, which perhaps affected his stamina and forced him to economize and try to go for those more democratic ground ball outs.
On Saturday, of course, Doc had 11 strikeouts. He was on top of the Marlins hitters. FanGraphs noted he did not allow a single line drive and had the highest single-game Win Probability Added in almost five years.
Because of the tight score, Halladay accrued a fantastic +.888 WPA. That mark is the highest for any pitcher since June 26th, 2005, when A.J Burnett and the Florida Marlins defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1-0.All of that has to be tempered by noting a wide strike zone helped Halladay wriggle out of a few 3-1 and 3-2 counts.
Halladay's feat, as it did for Bunning, should add to his "recognizability quotient." That's awesome in the long run. It was always evident Doc had the goods to throw a no-hit, no-run game, as much as it's a logical impossibility to predict.
Point being, though, as a Jays fan, seeing that his pitch count hit an unsightly, un-Doc-like 115, is cause to smile. It shows which city and country is home to the gallery that best reflects his art.