Great command. First-pitch strikes. Opposing hitters flailing at pitches. That's the Roy Halladay Blue Jays fans know and love.
He made Toronto baseball fans forget about an uncharacteristic month of August with his second career one-hitter in a 6-0 win Friday night over the visiting New York Yankees.
Halladay improved his season record to 14-8 with his sixth complete game of 2009 and 46th of his career. He is also 17-6 lifetime versus the Yankees and 10-2 against them at the Rogers Centre.
"He's just a little cut above a lot of other people," said Toronto manager Cito Gaston of Halladay, who walked three and struck out nine in a 111-pitch outing.
The Yankees, who entered the game with a major league-high 773 runs on the season, are comfortably atop the American League East, 25.5 games ahead of the struggling Jays.
Halladay's dazzling performance came on the heels of a stretch in which he lost three straight starts, matching a career high. His earned-run average over those appearances was 7.94. The strong showing also snapped the 60-74 Blue Jays' four-game losing streak, while denying New York (86-49) of its eighth consecutive victory.
Toronto Blue Jays ace pitcher Roy Halladay turned in his sixth complete game of the season in Friday's 6-0 win over the New York Yankees, tying him for the major league lead with Kansas City's Zack Greinke.
|Sept. 4||Yankees||Win||1 H, 3 BB, 9 SO|
|Aug. 4||Yankees||Loss||10 H, 4 ER, 5 SO|
|July 19||Red Sox||Win||6 H, ER, 7 SO|
|June 7||Royals||Win||7 H, 6 SO|
|June 2||Angels||Win||7 H, 4 ER, BB, 14 SO|
|May 12||Yankees||Win||5 H, ER, 5 SO|
"I think there's points in every year where there's always highs and lows and the important thing is to not get too caught up in it one way or the other," Halladay said.
From the outset of Friday's contest, Halladay didn't look anything like the right-hander who won two of six decisions last month while posting a 4.71 earned-run average.
He began the night with a four-pitch strikeout of Johnny Damon, who entered the game with a .356 career average against Halladay with five home runs and 11 runs batted in. But the Yankees outfielder would go hitless on this night with two punchouts.
Halladay primarily used a four-seam fastball and cutter to retire the first 14 batters he faced until Jorge Posada broke up his perfect game with a six-pitch walk with two out in the fifth inning.
Undaunted, the good doctor got the next batter, Robinson Cano, who struck out swinging on the fourth pitch he saw.
Halladay induced Melky Cabrera to ground out to open the top of the sixth. The next batter, Ramiro Pena, has fewer than 100 major league at-bats to his name and was filling in for injured shortstop Derek Jeter (finger).
But he dug in against Halladay and drilled an 0-1 curveball down the right-field line to break up Halladay's no-hit bid and atone for a first-inning gaffe when he failed to get his glove down on a Vernon Wells ground ball.
Halladay walked former Blue Jay Eric Hinske and Mark Teixeira later in the inning to load the bases, but fanned Alex Rodriguez to end the threat.
"Obviously he's a good hitter," said Halladay of Rodriguez, "and I think the tendency is to be too careful and that's where you get yourself into trouble, so just try to be aggressive, we got ahead and were able to make a pitch for us to get him out with."
By then, Toronto had built a 4-0 lead, which it extended with two runs in the seventh on a two-run double by Aaron Hill off Yankees relief pitcher Edwar Ramirez.
"We were only able to muster one hit and that just tells you how good he was," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
That scenario was a lot less heartbreaking than the last time Halladay had a no-hitter spoiled. In the second start of Halladay's career, he surrendered a two-out, ninth-inning homer to Detroit's Bobby Higginson in a game Toronto eventually won 2-1.
Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind plated his team's first run in the first inning with his 45th double of the season. Batting .350 with 17 RBIs in his previous 15 outings, Lind finished Friday's contest with three hits in four at-bats to raise his average to .305.
Toronto added two more runs against New York starter Joba Chamberlain, who entered the game with a career 2.25 earned-run average in 12 innings at Rogers Centre. He fell to 8-5 on the season after allowing three runs (two earned) on hits in three innings.
Lefties take the mound Saturday, with Toronto rookie Brett Cecil (6-3) opposing veteran Andy Pettitte (12-6) at 1:07 p.m. ET.