When Toronto ace Roy Halladay punctuated his Sunday victory over the Boston Red Sox by blowing a cut fastball past Jacoby Ellsbury for the final out, the fans at the Rogers Centre knew they had to do something special.
So they stood up and cheered. It was long and it was loud — even with a large pro-Boston contingent on hand.
You could say that ovation sent the Doc a couple of messages, given the trade rumours that have been floating around and the number of scouts from other teams in the stands.
Just what the Doctor ordered
Want to know how good Roy Halladay has been for Toronto?
Even with his recent slump, the Doc still has 11 wins and is tied for tops in the major leagues.
How about four complete games? They’re good for second overall. A 2.73 ERA is fourth in the American League and eighth in the majors.
And we’re not even counting his career numbers, which pegs him No. 1 in the majors in wins since 2002, and an AL Cy Young award in 2003.
With that kind of output, Jays fans might build roadblocks on the highway if the Doc heads elsewhere.
Maybe it was, "So long, and thanks for the memories."
But it also could've been, "Please don't go."
Halladay left Jays fans wanting more by pitching a one-run, complete-game gem on the way to a 3-1 Toronto victory.
"It's nice to see the crowd come out and support Doc," said Jays manager Cito Gaston. "Perhaps they thought they might have been seeing him pitch for the last time [as a Blue Jay].
"If that's the case, hopefully he won't be pitching against us."
But a lot still has to be decided before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so as Gaston said, "we'll just have to wait and see."
A series win
Sunday’s performance by Halladay (11-4) ended his four-game winless skid and gave the Jays their first series win in six tries, a slump that stretched back to late June.
Toronto (46-47) also pulled the feat off against its division leader and now sits 10 games back of Boston (55-36) and 8½ behind New York for the wild card spot.
Halladay had some trouble early, but settled in nicely down the stretch, holding the Red Sox to only one run on six hits with six strikeouts.
"My job's pretty simple, go out there and play," Halladay said. "I'm just going to take it day-to-day right now. For me [the possible trade] is too far in the future.
"It's something you can't think about. For me, it's the pitching. At this point I'm stepping away from it and doing my job."
Lester also strong
Boston lefty Jon Lester (8-7) almost matched Halladay pitch-for-pitch. He threw seven innings and gave up three runs on five hits and four walks.
Toronto catcher Rod Barajas, who drove in all three Blue Jay runs — two with a double in the second and another with a sacrifice fly in the sixth — also had a sense that something different was in the air when it came to his ace.
"It was like he was a different Doc [before the game]," he said. "If anything he was a little more relaxed."
It's maybe why Boston took an early lead off the Doc. David Ortiz hit a sac fly to score Dustin Pedroia, which gave the Red Sox a 1-0 advantage before Toronto came to bat in the first inning.
But the Jays responded in the second, giving Halladay all the run support he needed. Barajas drove a double down the left-field line to bring home Lyle Overbay and Alex Rios, who were put on base by a couple of walks from Lester.
The Doc settled in after that, and Barajas was left marvelling at the other end of the battery.
"He's the best pitcher I've ever had to catch," he said. "If it was the last time, I wanted to remember every little bit of it."
Hard to score runs
It was the only real time either team took advantage of offensive opportunities in the contest, as both squads struggled with runners in scoring position.
Toronto won despite going 2-for-10 and stranding seven base runners. Boston was 0-for-4 and left five men on base.
The Red Sox' best chance to regain the lead was in the third. However, Halladay managed to retire both Ortiz and Jason Bay with runners in scoring position to end the threat.
Barajas gave Toronto an insurance run in the sixth. He hit a sac fly to deep centre field that scored Overbay from third, putting the Jays up 3-1.
Boston right-hander Manny Delcarmen came into the game for Lester in the eighth inning.
Attendance was 36,534, putting the total for the three-game set against the popular Red Sox at over 100,000.