YOU WILL never hear a quiet like the one that settles into a dugout during the latter stages of a no-hitter. It is a peculiar quiet, similar to the final anxious inhale that occurs as your horse crosses the finish line, except extended over a period of time long enough for you to contemplate the ramifications of the event that is unfolding before your eyes.
Last night, that quiet settled into various areas of Citizens Bank Park sometime around the sixth inning. In the dugout, manager Charlie Manuel sat next to bench coach Pete Mackanin and pitching coach Rich Dubee and together the three of them tried to ignore the bigger picture. Every now and then, one of them would look at another and raise his eyebrows in a glance that spoke volumes.
Otherwise, the quiet was all that existed.
"It's a funny feeling," said Mackanin, who was a 21-year-old shortstop for the Rangers when Jim Bibby no-hit Oakland in 1973. "Everybody kind of realizes, hey, he's got good stuff, good command tonight. And then they clam up and don't talk."
Last night, just before 7:45 on a cool October evening, the noise finally broke through. Carlos Ruiz fielded a swinging bunt from the bat of Brandon Phillips, threw to first from his knees, then sprinted to the mound where Roy Halladay stood.
All around them, their teammates swarmed, forming a red-and-white mob that bounced to whatever euphoric rhythm accompanies the second postseason no-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball.
Halladay threw it last night: not just a no-hitter, not just a no-hitter in a postseason game, but a no-hitter in a postseason game for which he had waited an entire career. In a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, the veteran righthander exorcised the years of frustration that accompany life in a baseball outpost like Toronto.
You could see a little bit accompany every pitch. With every sinker that zipped over the plate, you could see his early morning offseason workouts. With every changeup that dipped below a hurtling bat, you could see the Octobers spent sitting at home in Florida trying to ignore his ever-shrinking window of opportunity. For more than 12 years, Roy Halladay had waited for his chance to carry his team to victory in this type of setting. And last night, he pitched like it.
"It's just one of those special things that I'll always remember," said Halladay, whose performance joins Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956 as the only postseason no-hitter ever thrown. "But the best part about it is that the playoffs take priority, and that's pretty neat for me to be able to go out and win a game like that and know there's more to come for us and more to accomplish."
You could not script a more perfect way for the Phillies to open up defense of their two straight National League titles. Halladay, the pitcher whose offseason acquisition came packaged with an unceremonious goodbye to incumbent ace Cliff Lee, was better than he has been all season. Heck, he might have been better than he has been his entire life, from his days as a schoolboy legend in Colorado to his Cy Young-winning season in 2003 to his perfect game against the Marlins in Miami on May 29.
"I thought his stuff was better than in his perfect game," said Dubee, the team's sixth-year pitching coach. "He had all four pitches. During the perfect game, he had four at times, but I thought he was more consistent tonight. His command was outstanding."
Through four innings, Halladay was about as perfect as a National League pitcher can be: 12 batters up, 12 batters down with just eight balls in his first 43 pitches. He was also 1-for-1 at the plate, having dropped an RBI single in front of a sliding Jonny Gomes in the second inning that gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead. (He later scored on a two-run single by Shane Victorino that provided him with more than enough cushion.)
He allowed his only baserunner with two outs in the top of the fifth, walking Jay Bruce on a 3-2 cutter (without question, it was a ball). From that point on, he never came close to doing it again. It might have been the easiest no-hitter ever defended. Only four of his 27 outs left the infield. Eight of them were strikeouts. The rest were a mixture of popups and ground balls that ranged in difficulty from easy to routine. Perhaps the toughest play came in the fourth inning, when Jimmy Rollins fielded a Joey Votto ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop and gunned to first base for the out.
"I felt like a spectator tonight," said closer Brad Lidge, who missed Halladay's perfect game in May while on a rehab assignment.
The Reds' Dusty Baker, who managed the Giants to the World Series in 2002, called it "the best-pitched game" he's seen in his postseason career.
"It's something people will always remember," Victorino said. "A perfect game? One of, what, 20? Second no-hitter in postseason history? What else is this guy going to write?"
An entire team awaits the answer.
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at