Roy Halladay and Don Larsen are two pitchers who couldn’t be more different, but after Halladay tossed his no-hitter against last night the two will forever be linked.
Last night was Halladay’s first ever playoff appearance. The fact that it took him 13 seasons to get that far has nothing to do with his abilities and more to do with the consistently bad Blue Jays teams he played on. On the other hand there is Larsen who only pitched for 14 seasons and never once made an all-star team or even got a single vote for the Cy Young.
On a team with three potential aces, Halladay was the unquestionable no. 1 starter in the playoffs for Philadelphia. On the other hand, Larsen was lucky to even get a start in the game that made him famous. He started game two of that series for the Yankees and couldn’t even make it out of the second inning. He faced 10 batters that day and only managed to record five outs while walking four batters.
But on a single day they each put forth probably the best and second best pitching performances in playoff history.
On October 8, 1956 Larsen faced 27 Brooklyn Dodgers and retired them all. He needed just 97 pitches and 71 strikes to get seven stirkeouts. It was even more a masterful performance because he was pitching on just two days of rest.
On October 6, 2010 Halladay faced just 28 Cincinnati Reds hitters and only walked one, Jay Bruce in the fifth inning. He threw 104 pitches, 79 of them for strikes while striking out eight. Just the previous winter he left the Blue Jays, a team he loved, for a chance to pitch in the playoffs. In his first ever meaningful October game nobody would have blamed him if he had some nervous jitters, but instead he was just masterful.
Halladay was just a single batter off from putting up the perfection that Larsen achieved, but the performance is just as memorable because it happened in October. A time where hitters reign supreme and big achievements with the bat are much more common place in October than on the mound.
Halladay and Larsen, two entirely different hitters, forever linked together in baseball lore.