Sitting inside the visitors' clubhouse early last October, the Cincinnati Reds knew they were on the wrong end of a historic moment.
Roy Halladay had just made them victims of the second-ever postseason no-hitter by pumping strike after wicked strike at them. The only blemish on Halladay's pristine pitching line was a two-out walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth inning.
More than seven months later, the Reds get another shot at Halladay. The stakes will not be nearly as high for Wednesday night's regular-season meeting between the Phillies and Reds at Citizens Bank Park, but the memory has not been erased from the minds of the Cincinnati players.
Former Phillie Scott Rolen struck out all three times he faced Halladay on that October evening. He saw 17 pitches and could not put one into play.
"He was hitting his spots inside, outside, and I think he made up a change-up that night, too," Rolen said. "You could tell his confidence was growing each inning he pitched. I was really into all three of my at-bats, and I didn't put a ball in play. Of the 17 pitches I saw, probably 13 of them were strikes."
That is a pretty accurate recollection and it was also indicative of how the game went. Halladay threw 12 strikes to Rolen - 79 of his 104 pitches were strikes. Twenty-five of the 28 batters he faced saw first-pitch strikes.
"I don't know why I continued to think I had a chance," Rolen said. "After the game, I came in and I thought: 'Seven or eight more at-bats, and maybe I could have put a curveball in play.' I was probably going to need to see another 30 pitches or so before I actually put the ball in play if he continued to pitch. The ball was electric. It was jumping and doing things."
Rolen was not surprised by what he saw that night because he felt as though Halladay had a chance to throw a no-hitter every time he played behind him with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brandon Phillips, on the other hand, was impressed with the way Halladay adjusted to a Cincinnati lineup that led the league in runs last season. Halladay surrendered a season-high 13 hits against the Reds in a June 30 start at Cincinnati, and then did not allow a run in 18 innings against them the next two times he faced them.
"He was a different Halladay than when we faced him in Cincinnati because we hit him pretty good that day," Phillips said. "He did his homework. Even though he's nasty all the time, he did his research for that next game, and he did a great job."
As painful as the evening was for the Reds, the memories are not entirely bad.
Phillips made the final out of the game when catcher Carlos Ruiz fielded a swinging bunt and threw to first base despite the fact that the baseball oddly clung to the bat in front of home plate.
"Honestly, I feel like that's the day I got famous because I made the last out," Phillips said. "I think Doc made me famous. I just tried to make contact. I didn't want the last out to be a strikeout, so I just tried to hit the ball. I'm glad that I didn't get a hit because I didn't want to break up a no-hitter when I hit a ball like that."
National League MVP Joey Votto said the fact that it was Halladay who accomplished the rare feat made it easier to take.
"As competitive as I am, it was one of the more memorable moments in baseball history," the Reds first baseman said. "It wasn't like it happened against some no-name. That was a future Hall of Famer who no-hit us. The right person no-hit us in his first playoff game and it was pretty special."
That night, however, it was painful.
"I think there was definitely some 'whoa' to what happened," Votto said. "We were surprised by how quickly we were behind and how we were beaten so decidedly. It was kind of an odd feeling in the clubhouse."
Votto he said he did not believe that feeling lingered into Game 2, but he did think that the Reds were beaten by an even more impressive pitching performance in Game 3 at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark.
"To be honest, I thought Cole Hamels might have been better than Roy," Votto said. "To go to our ballpark and shut us out, I felt like he threw as well as he could throw that night."
Hamels has already beaten the Reds again in the first game of this four-game series, and on Wednesday they get another shot at Halladay.
Phillips said he will not watch video of the 4-0 no-hitter in preparing for the rematch.
"Hell, no, I ain't going to watch it," the second baseman said. "That's in the past. That's motivation for us. He threw a no-hitter against us, and right now we're thinking, 'We are not going to let him do it again.' That's our motivation. He beat us in the playoffs, and now we want to put a hurting on him like he put a hurting on us."