Almost 9,000 fans flocked to Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon, expecting to watch Roy Halladay make a rehab start. With the Phillies recalling the two-time Cy Young Award winner a day early, someone else ended up stealing the show.
That someone was Deck McGuire, who made the most of the large crowd -- 2,500 above the Fightin Phils' average -- and put on a clinic.
The Blue Jays prospect took a perfect game into the seventh inning and continued a strong month as Double-A New Hampshire beat Reading, 7-3.
"It was awesome, an awesome atmosphere," McGuire said. "I was a little disappointed to hear [Halladay] wasn't pitching today. He's an awesome pitcher to watch throw. I was really looking forward to it, but today was a fun game to be a part of.
"I would say it was really good. My catcher, Jack Murphy, and I had a really good game plan going into the game because they are a really fastball-aggressive team, so I threw a lot of breaking stuff for strikes."
McGuire breezed through the first 18 batters but lost his shot at history when he walked Albert Cartwright on seven pitches to begin the seventh.
"I feel like it's one of those things you always know," McGuire said of the perfect game. "When you're not in the stretch for the first couple innings, you know things are going really well. You just keep executing pitch to pitch and hitter to hitter."
The no-hitter and shutout ended four pitches later when Zach Collier ripped a 2-1 offering for an RBI triple to right field. Phillies No. 2 prospect Maikel Franco plated Collier with a base hit up the middle, but McGuire was able to limit the damage.
"[The walk] was one of those things where [Cartwright] had a really good at-bat," said McGuire, who struck out seven and recorded nine flyouts. "He laid off some good sliders down. A 3-2 slider was the right pitch to go with and I had confidence in it in. It was just good pitch recognition.
"[The RBI triple] was a really good pitch, a 2-1 changeup down and away, and he put a really good swing on it and lined it to the right-field corner. It's the nature of the beast. They're a really good hitting team and it was only a matter of time. I was holding on as long as I could."
The 24-year-old right-hander, who threw 62 of 95 pitches for strikes, has been a workhorse for the Fisher Cats this month. He's logged 29 innings over four August starts, going 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts against eight walks.
"Today was one of those games when the stars aligned for the first couple innings," said McGuire, the 11th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of Georgia Tech. "It's been a good year all-round. I've been able to work on a lot of things and I've pitched pretty well, so it's nice to finish up strong."
Leadoff man Kenny Wilson fell a triple shy of the cycle, catcher Jack Murphy came within a homer and Kevin Ahrens homered and drove in three runs for New Hampshire.