Jaime Moyer pitches like he has pitched forever, and still people sometimes can't believe it.
He mixes and locates. He changes speeds. He turns hitters into a mess.
"It seems like you should be killing him," Florida Marlins first baseman Aaron Boone said after yesterday's 6-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. "I haven't been able to figure it out yet. He's great at what he does."
Moyer had a no-hitter with two outs in seventh inning when Miguel Cabrera ripped a line drive over a leaping Abraham Nuñez's outstretched glove for a double. In 7 1/3 shutout innings, Moyer (3-1, 2.65 ERA) allowed two hits and two walks. He struck out five.
"I was aware of it, but I wasn't really champing the bit over it," Moyer said of the no-hit bid.
He just wanted to win. The Phillies (11-13) have won three straight series and seven of their last nine games. Although they will finish the month with a losing record, they will have a better mark than the previous two Aprils, when they finished 10-14.
They wouldn't be able to say that without Moyer, who captivated a sellout crowd of 45,107.
Moyer, 44, would have become the oldest player in baseball history to throw a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan is the oldest. He was 43 when he threw one for the Texas Rangers in 1991.
What would it have meant?
"I don't know," Moyer said. "I didn't live it."
Moyer then retired the next eight batters he faced before Cabrera, who went 5 for 5 on Saturday, ended the no-hit bid.
Moyer threw a strike to Cabrera to make the count 2-1, but on the next pitch he threw a fastball that missed.
"I was a little upset with myself for going from 2-1 to 3-1," he said. "If I could have gone to 2-2, I think that at-bat, I'm not going to say the outcome would have been different, but my pitch selection would have been different."
Moyer threw a 3-1 fastball - it registered 80 m.p.h. on the scoreboard in right field - and Cabrera hit it.
"It's a pitch I wanted to make," Moyer said. "He popped up that same pitch in the first inning. I know he's an out-over-the-plate hitter, and I've gotten him out over the plate. But I'm thinking that he's looking over the plate here, and I wanted to see if I could get him to pop it up or even take it."
"It was very close," Nuñez said of his chances of catching the ball. "I'm too short. The next time I'm going to wear high heels."
But before that, it felt like one of those days. It felt familiar.
Kevin Millwood threw the last no-hitter for the Phillies on April 27, 2003, against the Giants at Veterans Stadium. It happened on a Sunday. It also happened on the Phanatic's birthday.
Yesterday was a Sunday and also the Phanatic's birthday.
Rollins said he noticed the same connection in the sixth inning.
The Marlins just noticed Moyer mixing and locating his pitches, like he always does.
"He's different from everybody, even guys I'm used to facing in the AL Central like [Mark] Buehrle and Kenny Rogers," Boone said. "Moyer, I've faced him a fair amount now and haven't had much success. Today was actually the best I thought he's pitched. However many pitches I saw against him, I didn't feel like he made a mistake."
"You don't see a whole lot of guys where their fastball is 81," leftfielder Josh Willingham said. "It's a big adjustment for you as hitters in the timing mechanism of the game."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Chase Utley's one-out single to right that scored Rollins. Werth hit a two-out, two-run single in the sixth to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. The Phillies scored three more in the eighth on Greg Dobbs' pinch-hit, bases-clearing double.
Moyer didn't get the no-hitter, but the Phillies got an important win as they embark on a 10-game road trip beginning tonight against the Atlanta Braves.
If they can get similar pitching to what they got yesterday from Moyer, they should be OK.