Left field

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A Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

May 31, 2010

BASEBALL/Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is a perfectionist, meticulous in his preparation and attention to detail and one of baseball’s best pitchers over the last decade.

Halladay, the right-hander nicknamed ‘Doc’, removed a bad taste in his mouth from his previous outing with perfect precision — by throwing the 20th perfect game ever in Major League Baseball in a 1-0 win Saturday against NL East rivals the Florida Marlins.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander, battered for seven runs his last time out against the Boston Red Sox, retired all 27 batters in order without letting a single player reach base, striking out 11 for good measure to improve his 2010 mark to 7-3 and help keep the Phillies in first place.

Remarkably, it was the second ‘perfecto’ of the month following the gem tossed by Oakland Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9.

The twin feat was extraordinary but not without precedent in baseball annals.

One only had to go back 130 years to find a matcher.

The first perfect games registered in Major League Baseball were thrown within five days of each other in 1880 — John Richmond for Worcester on June 12, and John Ward for Providence on June 17.

Halladay needed to be stingy in Miami, as the suddenly offensively-challenged Phillies — who were shut out three games in a row last week by the New York Mets — could only manage one unearned run in the game.

The Phillies lead the NL East by a scant half-game over the Atlanta Braves, who they will visit this week before hosting the NL West-leading San Diego Padres in back-to-back series that could shake up the standings.

Contrasting with the Halladay high of a perfect game, was the stunning loss for the Los Angeles Angels of their slugging first baseman Kendry Morales on Saturday.

Morales broke his leg during the celebration at home plate following his game-winning, grand slam homer in the 10th inning against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels, who trail the A’s by 2.5 games in the AL West, will find it hard to compensate for the loss of Morales, who leads the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs.

However, they may catch a break this week as they figure out how to restructure their lineup since they take on two of the weaker teams in the American League in the Kansas City Royals and the Mariners.

PHOTO: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (R) celebrates his complete game shutout against the New York Mets with catcher Carlos Ruiz after the ninth inning of their National League MLB game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 1, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

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