Roy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for years, but he’s never thrown a ball in October.
After fashioning yet another fantastic season, the former Toronto Blue Jays hurler will head to the postseason this year for the first time.
In Monday night’s game, Halladay secured the top spot in the National League East for the Phillies with a two-hit shutout in an 8-0 win over the Nationals in Washington.
“We’re just starting,” Halladay told the Associated Press. “I’m looking forward to moving forward. It should be a lot of fun.”
The team’s ace faced the minimum through seven innings and had six strikeouts with no walks, to add another game to the list of reasons why he should win the NL Cy Young Award.
Halladay leads the majors in wins (21), innings (250 2/3), complete games (nine), and shutouts (four). He also pitched the 20th perfect game in baseball history on May 29 of this season.
With the win, Philadelphia clinched the best record in the NL, giving them home-field advantage for the playoffs, after the American League took a loss at this year’s All-Star Game.
Halladay had thrown 87 pitches through the first eight innings, and stayed in for the ninth after almost getting hit in the head by a Joe Bisenus pitch on a bunt attempt during his at-bat in the top half of the inning.
The 2003 AL Cy Young winner ended the game with a strikeout, and was joined by his teammates on the mound for a celebration.
“I felt good,” Halladay said. “We got enough runs, especially early. It was a fun game to pitch in.”
Halladay also had the honour of popping the first bottle of champagne for his team, when he got back to the clubhouse. The ace, known for being religious about his rigid workout rituals, skipped his post-game routine in order to celebrate.
“I’ll get to it,” Halladay said.
The right-hander took his time to enjoy the festivities, a new experience for the 12-year Blue Jay who had never come close to postseason action, or clinching a division title.
Halladay joined the Phillies in a December trade with Toronto, waiving his no-trade clause and signing a three-year, $60 million U.S. contract extension.
He would have received much more if he had waited to become a free agent the following season, but the 33-year-old wanted a chance to win.
“That’s the reason you want to come to a team like this,” Halladay said, while celebrating with his Phillies teammates. “They know how to do it.
“This is the coolest thing I’ve been a part of. It’s just the start, I think.”