Continuing a season of dominance by pitchers around the majors, Roy Halladay delivered the second perfect game this season -- but only the 20th in major league history -- in beating the Marlins 1-0 Saturday night in Miami.
The man known as "Doc" already has lived up to all of the expectations that accompanied him to Philadelphia from Toronto after the biggest trade of the offseason, but his work Saturday obviously set the bar at a new level.
"I don't know what to say," Halladay said. "Early in my bullpen I was hitting spots more than I have been. I felt like I just carried that out there."
Halladay hummed through the Marlins' lineup with ease before finishing off his gem by getting Ronny Paulino to ground to third baseman Juan Castro for the final out in the bottom of the ninth. Paulino was the third consecutive pinch-hitter to try and fail against Halladay in the ninth. Mike Lamb opened the inning with a fly out to the warning track and Wes Helms took a called third strike for the last of Halladay's 11 strikeouts.
Halladay's margin of victory was slim as could be, with the Phillies scoring their lone run in the third inning on a three-base error by Florida center fielder Cameron Maybin. That was the only blemish for Marlins starter Josh Johnson, but it goes without saying that more was needed to match Halladay on this night.
"He did what he had to do," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We gave him one run. He made it stand up. That was good. Super for him."
It hasn't even been three weeks since a pitcher last retired all 27 batters in order. Oakland's Dallas Braden pulled off that feat on Mother's Day, May 9, against the Rays. Braden's gem came about three weeks after Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez tossed a no-hitter in Atlanta on April 17.
The 20-day turnaround between perfect games was the second shortest in history. The first two perfect games (see full list here) came five days apart in 1880, by Lee Richmond of Worcester on June 12 and John Montgomery Ward of Providence on June 17. It would be nearly 24 years before Cy Young threw the first perfect game of the modern era on May 5, 1904.
Halladay's perfect game was the second in Phillies history. Jim Bunning did it against the Mets on June 21, 1964 -- Father's Day -- needing only 90 pitches along the way. Phillies pitchers have thrown nine no-hitters (including Bunning's perfecto), the most recent by Kevin Millwood against the Giants on April 27, 2003.
Nearly 12 years ago, Halladay came within an out of pitching a no-hitter in his second big league start. On Sept. 27, 1998, Tigers pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson hit the first pitch he saw from the then-Blue Jays rookie for a home run to spoil it for Halladay.
Saturday night, 296 major league starts later, everything was perfect.
"It's never something that you think is possible," Halladay said. "Really, once I got the two outs, I felt like I had a chance. You're always aware of it. It's not something that you expect."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.