Early in 2010, Josh Johnson asked Rich Dubee if he could watch one of Roy Halladay's bullpen sessions. The pitching coach deferred to Halladay, who said it was fine. The two National League East aces are forever linked in history because of a Saturday night in May, but they share a kinship beyond that.
At the All-Star Game later that season, Johnson tailed Halladay.
"I was like a little brother to him," Johnson said. "I was kind of following him around and trying to pick his brain about what he does after starts, in between starts."
On Wednesday night, they will oppose one another for the fourth time in three seasons.
May 29, 2010: Phillies 1, Marlins 0 — It was perfection; 27 up, 27 down. Halladay tossed the 20th perfect game in baseball history. But Johnson was almost as good. The only run he allowed was unearned because centerfielder Cameron Maybin misjudged a third-inning Chase Utley fly ball and turned it into a three-base error. Wilson Valdez scored from first base.
"It's something you never think about," Halladay said. "It really is. It's hard to explain. There's days where things just kind of click and things happen."
June 10, 2010: Marlins 2, Phillies 0 — Just 12 days after the perfect game, the two pitchers matched up again. After the game, both pitchers had sub-2.00 ERAs for the season. Halladay allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base. A first-inning run scored on a sacrfice fly, and that was enough. Both pitchers threw eight innings. Johnson allowed only four base runners.
"You obviously know what you're in for," Halladay said.
May 10, 2011: Marlins 2, Phillies 1 — Halladay pitched a complete game in a losing effort. Johnson didn't earn the win despite pitching seven innings. The Phillies' lone run came on a Ryan Howard solo blast in the second inning. And just like the perfect game a year ago, this was decided with the help of an error. Omar Infante led off the eighth with a grounder to shortstop. Jimmy Rollins' throw pulled Howard off the bag. Infante moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout. He scored on a Chris Coghlan single up the middle.
A key moment in the game was when Halladay inexplicably walked Johnson, the first time in his career he walked the opposing pitcher. Johnson later scored a run.
"I just walked him," Halladay said. "I don't know what else to tell you."
What will we see tonight?
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