ATLANTA - One lesson from Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game Wednesday night?
It isn't enough for a pitcher to be flawless.
Every one else must be flawless, too, from the players in the field to the umpires on the basepaths to the umpire behind home plate.
So when Ruben Amaro Jr. was given an opportunity to gloat a bit in the wake of Roy Halladay's perfect game against the Marlins last Saturday, he declined.
"Shoot, it's no secret," said the Phillies' general manager, who made the difficult decision to trade for Halladay and trade away postseason star Cliff Lee last December. "Cliff Lee has every bit the ability to do the same thing. It takes a lot of luck."
But when Halladay takes the mound tonight against the Padres for his first start since retiring all 27 Marlins he faced - 11 by strikeout - it will give the entire Phillies organization, from Amaro to Halladay to the fans in the seats, a chance to marinate in one of the early returns on the offseason blockbuster.
The Phillies have not detailed any plans about how they will honor Halladay, or even if they will do so tonight, when the veteran righthander will be locked into his usual pregame routine.
Nevertheless, the sight of Halladay walking out to the mound for the first pitch will provide a much-needed distraction from the 2-7 road trip that the Phillies recently finished.
"I'm so happy for him," Amaro said. "He's the kind of guy you really want to get to the playoffs with, you really want him to come to Philadelphia and be with a contender . . . He works so very hard to achieve what he achieves, not for himself, but for the club, that for him to achieve this personal goal - if anybody deserved to get it, it was a guy like him."
Amaro did not trade for Halladay so that the Phillies organization would be able to add another perfect game to the one Jim Bunning pitched in 1964, so it's understandable that he didn't view the proceedings of last Saturday as some sort of justification for a move that saw the Phillies part with three top prospects and a hard-throwing lefthander who had won the admiration of the fans with his scintillating postseason performance.
In fact, for one of the rare times in the life of a major league general manager, he was able to sit back and put his critical eye away and get lost in the moment with the hundreds of thousands of fans whose livelihoods do not depend on what happens on the field.
Early in the Phillies' eventual 1-0 victory, Amaro had joined his half-brother, also named Ruben, behind the plate at Sun Life Stadium. He did not intend to stay for the entire game - he usually sits in the visiting executive's suite, where e-mails and phone calls and websites can be easily accessed - but as the perfect game unfolded, he could not convince himself to leave.
"Some of the guys on the air were saying how their hands were shaking - I tried to distract myself by keeping a conversation with Ruben, and pretty much kept the conversation going all the way through the last six outs," Amaro said. "I was extremely nervous."
When Jorge Cantu smashed a sharp ground ball to third base, which Juan Castro ultimately fielded without incident, Amaro's body went rigid.
"I almost pulled a hamstring," Amaro said.
And when Halladay got Ronny Paulino to ground out to end the game, Amaro jumped out of his seat along with his brother and yelled over and over, "Are you [kidding] me?"
"I'm glad they don't have tape of it," Amaro said. "I jumped up and was hugging and kissing my brother behind home plate."
Five-and-a-half months earlier, when Amaro and assistant general manager Scott Proefrock put the finishing touches on the 3-year, $60 million contract extension that completed the trade with Toronto, the mood was slightly less subdued. There was a dinner in Center City with the Halladay clan, and phone calls to the various scouts and front-office personnel that played a role in the acquisition. And then the focus returned to the future.
For at least 1 night, though, Amaro and the rest of the organization had a chance to bask in the present.
MLB Network will rebroadcast Roy Halladay's perfect game this afternoon at 12:30 p.m.