Later on this evening, there will be a Major League baseball game that will feature perhaps the first great pitching matchup of the season, when Roy Halladay and the Phillies take on Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins in Miami in a battle of insane pedigrees. It will be the third meeting in the last two years for the Aces.
On one side, you’ve got Roy Halladay, the prized Phillies Ace, destroyer of worlds, reigning Cy Young award winner, and the guy that most people with a pulse and cursory knowledge of the game would consider to be the best at his job. He is well on his way to another great campaign, with a 5-1 record in seven starts to go with a 2.19 ERA and 57 strikeouts.
On the other side, you’ve got Josh Johnson, the young gun who is following up his fantastic 2010 campaign (2.30 ERA, 186 strikeouts in 183.2 innings of work) with gusto, and who just might give Doc a run for his money when they hand out the hardware at year’s end. Through seven games, he’s been every bit as good, if not better, than Halladay, with a 1.68 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 48.1 innings.
Adding to the narrative of this matchup of fast working, dominating, strike-throwing hurlers is the fact that it’s almost the one-year anniversary of the night in Florida where Halladay tossed a perfect game in a 1-0 victory that saw Johnson take the hardest of hard luck losses.
Naturally, Halladay was dominant in his perfection, but Johnson was remarkably impressive, as he tends to be, and took the loss despite allowing only one unearned run thanks to a defensive gaffe early on in the contest. With all that talent on the mound, it’s only fitting for the outcome to be decided on an error.
The duo faced off two weeks later in Philly, only this time Johnson was the victor, as he tossed eight shutout frames to get the edge over Roy, who allowed one earned run over eight.
Two pitchers, two games, 32 innings pitched, 30 strikeouts, three walks, 16 hits, ONE earned run. One! That’s an ERA of 0.28, folks. The kind of talent that is emanating from these two guys is palpable.
It’s a matchup between two pitching titans, two talented right-handers who may very well end up 1-2 in the Cy Young voting this season, between two teams that are 1-2 in the division standings. It’s only May, but if a game has felt any more like a playoff matchup, then I’ve yet to see it.
The only downside to this whole thing is that this game is in South Florida, which means that only a smattering of fans will be on hand to watch, and even then, they’ll probably mostly be Phillies fans. That is not meant to disparage the fine folks of Miami, because the Marlins have good fans and all, but this is the type of knock-down, drag-out pitching matchup that demands an audience.
But not even a sparsely crowded stadium can take away from what is most assuredly to be another marquee matchup between two Aces.