Halladay's an artist; Votto, too

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

CINCINNATI — How good was that guy in his post-season debut the other night, Joey Votto was asked?

“Twice I stepped out, called time on him,” Votto said with a laugh of Roy Halladay’s 4-0 no hitter in Game 1 of the National League division series.

“The next day, workout day, I saw him on the field, congratulated and apologized to him for stepping out. Then I added, ‘Sorry, but that’s the best I got.’ He laughed at that.”

Votto, who grew up in Etobicoke, said he got to know the former Blue Jays ace “a little” at the all-star game in Anaheim.

In his first game against Halladay on June 20 at Great American Ballpark, Votto bounced out and struck out before hitting a solo homer to right as the Reds won 4-3, dropping Halladay’s record to 9-7. And in Philadelphia, Votto grounded into a double play, bounced out and singled, as Halladay pitched nine scoreless in 1-0 win.

“I’d seen him before,” Votto said. “But I hadn’t seen him like that before.”

No one had, unless you were one of the 25,086 fans at the Sun Life Stadium when Halladay pitched a perfect game May 29 against the Florida Marlins.

“The biggest compliment I’ve heard about is that no one on our staff was surprised at what he did, not a coach or a player,” said Ruben Amaro, who dealt for Halladay in December. “I’ll never see another game like that in my lifetime. A lot of people thought it should have been a perfect game.”

Jay Bruce walked on a 3-2 pitch with two out in the fifth.

“Go back and check the 1-2 pitch or the 2-2 pitch, it was a strike,” said one Phillie knocking plate ump John Hirschbeck.

Votto agreed it could have been a perfect game, saying Halladay “just missed with the 3-2 pitch ... a cutter that sunk too low.”

Discussing Halladay’s pitches, Votto asked for my notebook.

No, I told him I’m not giving you my note book.

He asked me to draw home plate.

Two pitches into the description of Halladay, Votto grabbed the notebook and pen.

“To right-handed hitters he’ll throw a cutter, which starts at your right hip and catches the back corner, a sinker which catches the front portion, a back-door cutter which catches the corner and a slider on the corner,” Votto the artist says. “That’s not even mentioning his curve or his splitter. He doesn’t throw a fastball.”

One look at the plate and it’s not Picasso.

The four lines crossing the 17-inch plate just touch the black portion of the plate.

Two on each side, one front, one back.

Shown Votto’s handiwork, Amaro says, “He never throws a pitch over the front of the plate. At least he didn’t that night.”

Phillies coach Davey Lopes said the hardest hit ball of the night was a liner by Travis Wood to right caught by Jayson Werth.

A reporter asked Votto when the series opened in Philadelphia whether Toronto fans would be root for Halladay or him?

“I said I didn’t know,” Votto said.

Jays fans would have wanted Halladay to strike Votto out.

Canadian ball fans, the type that filled Rogers Centre in 2009 to see Team Canada play at the Rogers Centre, would have been rooting for a Votto homer.

“Jimmy Rollins told me that day ‘this is like the playoffs,’ ” Votto said. “The WBC helped me, I wasn’t nervous at all.”

Votto turned on his machine after Wednesday’s no-hitter, the second in post-season, to find hitting tips from his former Etobicoke Rangers coach Bob Smyth.

“I thought come on Bobby, we just got no hit by one of the game’s greats,” Votto laughed. “I’ll call him back. I was fine Friday and will be fine Sunday.”

Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, the Reds need Votto to be more than fine Sunday night.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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