Halladay twirls gem in final start
Backed by Ruiz's bat, Jays' ace takes no-hitter into sixth
BOSTON -- If Wednesday was indeed Roy Halladay's final start for the Blue Jays, what a way to finish his career in a Toronto uniform.
The workhorse right-hander tossed his Major League-leading ninth complete game of the season, holding a reserve-heavy Red Sox lineup to just three hits in leading the Jays to a 12-0 victory that secured their first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since 2001.
Randy Ruiz had four hits -- including a career-high two home runs -- for Toronto (75-84), which left the yard four times to extend its season-best winning streak to six games.
The homer-happy Jays cracked 13 long balls in the three-game series against the Red Sox (91-67), offering a glimpse of the potent offense that was one of baseball's best earlier this season.
"The guys are swinging the bats like they did at the start of the season," manager Cito Gaston said. "It's something positive to take home and bring back next year."
On Wednesday, Toronto's loud bats took a backseat to Halladay, who struck out six while throwing a tidy 100 pitches. The American League Cy Young Award candidate logged his second consecutive complete game and fourth in six September starts to improve to 17-10.
"Outstanding," Gaston said. "Well, of course he was, that's Doc. He's one of the better pitchers in this league. Complete games the last two times out. That's Doc Halladay for you."
"It's, obviously, a nice way to finish," Halladay said. "It's fun when you get runs like that. It takes a lot of the pressure off. You just go out there and pitch. It was fun."
Speculation surrounding Halladay's future has been swirling for months, but the ace spoke Wednesday as if he will remain with the only organization he's played for.
"There were a lot of good things that came out of this year," said Halladay, whose contract expires at the end of the 2010 season. "I don't think anyone's going to walk away from this season thinking it was a total loss on all fronts."
Halladay plans to weigh his options carefully this offseason.
"For the most part, a lot of it is going to be out my hands," he said. "You never want to have that uncertainty, but sometimes it's part of it and you do what you can to make the best of your situation. I really don't know what the winter's going to hold. I'll try to make the best of what's presented to me, and go from there."
The Jays raced out to an early advantage for the third time in as many nights, as Jose Bautista's RBI groundout and a run-scoring single from Aaron Hill in the second put the visitors on top against Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield, who was tagged for five runs on seven hits over three frames.
Halladay opened the bottom of the second by hitting David Ortiz in the right elbow -- precisely the same spot Jonathan Papelbon plunked Adam Lind on Tuesday after the Toronto slugger homered in each of his first three at-bats.
If there was any intent behind the pitch from Halladay, he wasn't letting on.
"Just got away from me," Halladay said. "It's an unfortunate part of the game. You don't ever want to see anybody get hurt, but sometimes those things happen, and you move on."
Still, Halladay's teammates appreciated the gesture.
"I guess it must have slipped," Lind quipped.
"You appreciate that you're protected," infielder John McDonald said. "It's good. It's the way the game's been played for a long time."
Toronto's lead continued to grow as the game progressed, with third-inning home runs from Lyle Overbay (two-run) and Ruiz (solo). Overbay's swat marked the Jays' 200th long ball of the season, the fifth time they have reached that plateau in franchise history and first since 2000.
Fernando Cabrera replaced Wakefield and pitched a scoreless fourth, but he and Dustin Richardson provided little relief in the fifth. McDonald laced a single to center that scored Ruiz, Bautista followed with a sacrifice fly, and Hill added an infield single to plate McDonald.
In the sixth, Ruiz crushed a towering solo home run to left off Manny Delcarmen before McDonald singled home Travis Snider two batters later to give the Jays a 10-0 pad.
Toronto scored single runs in the eighth and ninth for good measure, but there was never any doubt about its ninth win in 10 contests.
Despite their recent hot streak, the Jays know that such stretches must be commonplace if they are to contend in 2010.
"There's always going to be that wishing that we were a little better this year and had a chance to get to the playoffs," Halladay said. "I think everybody here, when they go home, I would think that would be their first thought. There were some pretty good individual years. As a team, we really didn't achieve some of the goals that we had aspired to, but there are a lot of positives going forward."
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.