If baseball had its own version of Ali-Frazier, it might be the pitching matchup that will take place at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday night. For the third time in the last 13 months, Roy Halladay, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, will square off against Marlins ace Josh Johnson, the reigning NL ERA champion.
Entering Tuesday's start, Halladay and Johnson both rank in the top five in the NL in ERA and the top 10 in WHIP, strikeouts and innings pitched. In the last four seasons, Halladay's 2.63 ERA is the best in baseball; Johnson ranks fifth (2.83).
"I get excited as long as my guy wins," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel joked. "But no, I get excited. I like to see that."
The first meeting between the two right-handed aces in 2010 was one of the most memorable games of last season. On May 29 in Miami, Johnson allowed one unearned run in seven innings, and Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in baseball history in a 1-0 win.
Two weeks later, Halladay allowed one run in eight innings while Johnson shut out the Phils out on three hits in eight innings in a 2-0 Marlins win.
"They love competition," pitching coach Rich Dubee said of the two ace right-handers. "JJ's probably more of a strikeout guy, but Roy's striking more guys out this year."
Halladay and Johnson have cemented their statuses as upper-echelon aces this season.
Before his most recent start, a 6-3 loss to St. Louis on Thursday, Johnson had given up two runs, total, in a five-start span. Halladay has allowed more than two runs in just one start, a 9-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 19.
Take away that game and Halladay would have a 1.41 ERA this season.
"I just let him pitch," Manuel said of Halladay. "He always stays the same: keeps his head, stays focused, keeps his cool and goes about his business. His determination comes out. You can see it."
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