Thursday, June 10, 2010

Counting Down a True Rarity: MLB's 20 Perfect Games

Part 21 of 21

20 Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies May 29, 2010

With the newspaper ink barely dry on Braden's big day, Philadelphia Phillies ace pitcher Roy Halladay added his name to the hallowed list. Coming off his worst performance of the season and surrounded by a slumping team, Halladay made one unearned run stand up by setting every Marlins hitter down in order.

The lanky right-hander overpowered the Marlins primarily with his signature heavy, sinking fastball. Halladay pounded the edges of the strike zone inside and out, while occasionally mixing in breaking balls.

The former Blue Jays star, who was acquired by the Phillies in the offseason in a much celebrated trade, needed 115 pitches to secure the masterpiece. He set down eight hitters by ground ball and the same number via fly ball, while striking out 11 for the game.

Similar to pitchers such as Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson, Halladay possesses the demeanor, command and overall stuff that made him a candidate to accomplish such a remarkable feat. He is arguably the game's best pitcher with a 155-79 record and 3.37 ERA over his first 13 seasons.

In just his second major league start, Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter before the Tigers' Bobby Higginson jacked a home run to spoil it. This time around, Halladay was up to the task to add another great accomplishment to his sparkling resume.

The Final Word

Over the course of 130 years— from Lee Richmond of the Worcester Ruby Legs to Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies— there have been a grand total of 20 pitchers to achieve perfection.

It is surely an exclusive club with a very clear requirement for entry. Having two players sign on in the month of May is truly extraordinary, particularly considering that as many as 34 years have passed between occurrences.

Interestingly, half of the perfect games have featured two or less runs— six with just one run. Perhaps the low run support causes pitchers to maintain greater focus, almost forcing them towards perfection.

Fortunately for Halladay, the Phillies scratched out an unearned run on Saturday— or this club's list might be at 19 and holding.

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