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MLB Playoffs Day 1: Rocco Baldelli vs. Jeff Francoeur, Rays-Rangers Is Best Series

The 2010 MLB postseason got off to a fantastic start with three very exciting ballgames. I have in-depth notes for Game 1 of the Tampa Bay/Texas series— which is going to be the most exciting series of the postseason other than a Phillies-Yankees World Series rematch.

Why is this perhaps the most exciting match-up in the postseason? Surely, (my home team) against (that other team) is better! Of course, but no other series features two more exciting, dynamic, young, complete teams that are also totally different in the way they approach and play the game.

In Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, we have two of the best players in the league, both about to enter free agency with a lot at stake. In Josh Hamilton, we have one of the game’s most exciting, compelling players playing hurt. We have a difficult pitching environment in Texas where not a lot of postseason games have been played and pitchers are going to have to battle. Both teams will score runs and both teams have question marks in their pitching staffs that keep the series interesting. I could go on and on.

RAYS-RANGERS

In Game 1, Cliff Lee was his usual, strike-throwing-robot-self, working mostly off his fastball, keeping it down and locating it on both sides of the plate, cutting it against righties. He mixed in his change and curve but did not have a great feel for his curve and did not use too many. He obviously did not need it, striking out 10 and walking none.

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Roy Halladay Tosses No-Hitter in Postseason Debut for Phillies

One of the great side stories to the MLB playoffs this year was Roy Halladay getting his first shot at the postseason after spending 12 years in Toronto. Who could have ever imagined that he would throw a freaking no-hitter in his first career postseason start?

The Phillies Cy Young candidate threw the first playoff no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in 1956, beating the Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the NLDS. As if that stat wasn’t impressive enough, the no-no comes four and a half months after he threw a perfect game against the Marlins! To place that in context, only four pitchers have thrown two no-hitters in the same season, and the last was Nolan Ryan who’s now an executive with the Rangers.

Halladay needed only 104 pitches to make history happen. Aside from a walk to Jay Bruce in the 5th, Halladay was perfect facing just 28 batters in the game. He only had three three-ball counts and threw 79 of his 104 pitches for strikes. After the game, Doc described his performance as “surreal,” saying “to be able to go out and have a game like that is a dream come true.” It is a dream come true, and it makes the game so special for the fans to enjoy.

With a no-hitter in his postseason debut, the only question is where does Doc and the Phillies go from here? Anything less than winning the World Series would have to be a disappointment. Good thing they’re our World Series favorite. What an incredible start to the 2010 MLB Playoffs!