To commemorate Roy Halladay’s no-hitter today vs. the Reds, here’s the story of his near no-hitter as a rookie making his second start, on September 27, 1998. The AP summarized:
Roy Halladay, only 21 and pitching just his second game in the majors, almost made history for the Toronto Blue Jays. He lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth inning when Detroit pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson homered at SkyDome.
“I told myself probably in the sixth, seventh inning that if I did lose it, I wasn’t going to be disappointed, but when it did, I was a little disappointed,” Halladay said.
Halladay wound up winning his first decision in the majors, getting the last out on his next pitch for a 2-1 victory.
And Mike Rutsey of the Hamilton Spectator added:
Not a bad season finale.
Not a bad audition for 1999 either.
Roy Halladay, at 21 the youngest member of the Blue Jays, came within one out of moving into the record books yesterday, when he lost a no-hit bid with two out in the ninth.
Detroit pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson was the party pooper in the final game of the season as he rocked the first pitch from Halladay into the Jays’ bullpen in left field to spoil the no-hitter and the shutout with one swing.
“Before the game (in analysing the opposing hitters), we made the decision to throw him a fastball away,” Halladay said of his pitch to Higginson. “I thought it was a good pitch. Unfortunately, that’s what he was looking for. But I’m happy with the pitch I made and I’ll stick with it.”
Halladay retired the next batter to get the complete-game victory in the Blue Jays’ 2-1 triumph, which gave them an 88-74 record, good for third place in the East. It was the 1,700th win for the franchise.
The Tigers and the Jays played as if they had early planes to catch as the game took just one hour 45 minutes. Still, that was enough time for Alex Gonzalez and Shawn Green to hit solo homers — the one for Green giving him 100 RBIs on the season — and Halladay to stifle the Tigers.
It marked the second one-hitter of the season for the Jays and the 14th in club history. However, Halladay became just the third pitcher in club history — Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy being the others — to take a no-hitter into the ninth.
Stieb, of course, is the only pitcher to have thrown a no-hitter for the Jays — Sept. 2, 1990 in Cleveland. As fate would have it, Stieb caught the ball Higginson hit into the bullpen.
[Stieb, who had his share of near-miss no-hitters, caught the homer on a carom off the bleacher wall and said: “The no-hitter was all I thought about the whole game. The memories started coming back around the fifth inning.”]
“That was outstanding,” Jays’ manager Tim Johnson said of Halladay, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who was the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft and who went 9-5 this year at Syracuse.
“The kid dominated the whole game. It was a hell of a feat, outstanding. He showed no fear, came right at you.”
Johnson was asked if Halladay has a shot at cracking the rotation next year. “I imagine,” Johnson said. “We’ll see what happens. He has good stuff. He’s a power pitcher, a dominating power pitcher.”
Halladay had a perfect game going after four innings only to lose it when Felipe Crespo made a fielding error on the first batter of the fifth, Tony Clark. Clark would be the lone Tiger to reach base as Halladay retired the next 14 in order until he faced Higginson.
“I told myself in the sixth or seventh inning that if it didn’t happen, not to be disappointed,” Halladay said. “But when it did happen, I was disappointed.”
Halladay said that throughout the game he received the silent treatment from his teammates.
“Nobody said a word until after the game,” he said. “The guys were trying to stay quiet. They left me alone.”
At no point did he feel his heart thumping against his chest.
“Actually I wasn’t that nervous,” he said. “I don’t know why.”