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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Roy Halladay is applauded by fans as he returns to the dugout during ninth inning AL action against Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto on Friday July 24, 2009. Halladay struck out 10 batters over nine innings but took a no-decision as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto 4-2 in 10 innings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Roy Halladay is applauded by fans as he returns to the dugout during ninth inning AL action against Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto on Friday July 24, 2009. Halladay struck out 10 batters over nine innings but took a no-decision as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto 4-2 in 10 innings. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Doc's pitching does the talking Add to ...

The moment was ripe for J.P. Ricciardi to strike with a larger-than-expected contingent of reporters on hand - some having travelled in from the United States - for what might have been Roy Halladay's final turn at home in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.

Everybody was hoping for the general manager to utter yet another nugget that would add to the already smouldering Halladay trade affair that has gripped the city the last couple of weeks.

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But a funny thing happened on the way to pulpit. Ricciardi had no comment.

"Done talking about it," Ricciardi said with a wave of his hand as he made his way into the dugout as the Blue Jays finished off batting practice in preparation for last night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre.

As for Halladay, he did what he has always done best - let his pitching do most of the talking and he didn't disappoint.

Halladay was superb, allowing just two of the runs off four hits over nine innings while striking out 10 but it wasn't enough as the Rays scored twice in the 10th off Toronto reliever Scott Downs to record a 4-2 victory.

After the game, Halladay delivered his best pitch for die-hard Blue Jay fans when he stated he didn't think he would be dealt by the Blue Jays prior to the July 31st trading deadline.

"If there was an urgency to be somewhere else and an urgency from the team to have me somewhere else I think it would be different," Halladay said. "I just don't get that feeling. At this point I feel like I'm going to be here."

Ricciardi's reticence to talk was an abrupt about-face for the Toronto GM who has certainly not shied away from speaking his mind on the matter of possibly trading away the team's most valued employee, a prospect that has enraged many in the city's baseball community.

But Halladay afterward pointed out that he felt both Ricciardi and Paul Beeston, the Jays interim president, were doing the best job they could to build a winner in Toronto.

"I definitely feel like there's a plan in place," Halladay said. "I feel like that it's an organization that's trying to move forward, that it's trying to get better. So from that aspect of it there's a lot to look forward to here.

"But, again, I think for me it's just more of a wait and see. I know Paul's done a great job and I have a lot of confidence in J.P. The time that I've been here he's done the best he can to put the best team out there."

Halladay is a free agent following the 2010 season and the Blue Jays, who have pretty much played their way out of contention in the rugged American League East, are seeing what their big ace might fetch in the trade market.

The Jays say Halladay has told the team he intends to test the free-agent market, a matter that the pitcher said last night he is still wrestling with.

"At this point I would like to try and wait and try and see what's going to happen, where's the best place to win?" he said. "It could be here, it might be here.

"I just don't have that crystal ball. I can't see that far in advance."

The fans were certainly in tune that last night's game might have been their last opportunity to pay homage to the player many consider to be the game's top pitcher.

As Halladay made the walk from the bullpen to the Jays dugout before the start of the game, most of the people seated in the left field stands rose and applauded, including the grounds crew.

Homemade signs filled the stadium, imploring the Jays not to trade Halladay.

One that was getting a lot of attention was being waved in the upper deck and featured a caricature of the Toronto GM. "I Am Good At Evaulating Talent," read the message. "Look at Wells."

As the game played out there were several more outbursts of public support for Halladay, the most telling that erupted in the top of the fifth inning with the scored deadlocked at 2-2.

"Don't trade Roy, Don't trade Roy," came the chant that arose from behind the Blue Jays dugout. Moments later the cry changed to "Trade J.P., Trade J.P."

And when he left the game after getting Gabe Gross to ground out to Lyle Overbay in the top of the ninth Halladay received another heartfelt standing ovation from the fans.

"I think you realize what a great place this is to play," Halladay said of the overall mood. "It was electric, it was a great atmosphere. It was fun to be in.

"I think you have those moments in your career where it's so much fun being out there and obviously coming out on the wrong end of it is hard. But it was electric, it was a fun place to be tonight."

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