Take away the history, and Friday's game between the Tigers and Orioles was a rather humdrum game for them. There was neither a grand ovation nor a round of boos for Joyce from the crowd this time when he came out from the tunnel, no ceremony or special recognition when the umpiring crew took the lineup cards before the game. Joyce took his spot behind the plate, called his game and blended into the background of the game.
He went almost unnoticed as the home-plate umpire, with few if any disputes. That's how most umpires want their nights to be. That's exactly how Joyce wanted this night to turn out.
"Probably the second-hardest plate job of my career until the first three outs," Joyce said. "After the first three outs, I felt I could get back to being Jim Joyce, the umpire."
That he did. Despite all attention Joyce's blown call at first base in June attracted, what it meant for Galarraga's perfect-game bid, the Tigers really like Joyce as an umpire.
"He did a good job today, [like] always," Miguel Cabrera said. "He's one of the best umpires in the game."
Said Galarraga: "It's not like he's going to call me everything for strikes. I might make a good pitch, but he thought it was a ball. He showed his professionalism for baseball. That's why he's one of the best."
Luke Scott's leadoff single in the second inning thwarted any chance of perfection from Galarraga this time around. The Tigers' offense, not Joyce, cost Galarraga a chance at a victory when Detroit couldn't drive in Austin Jackson after his leadoff triple in the seventh inning. Galarraga settled for seven innings of three-run ball in a no-decision.
Joyce left with a well-called game in his return to Comerica Park for the first time since that June series.
"I thought he did a great job behind the plate," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who played a big role in bringing Galarraga and Joyce together after the controversy in June. "So that's gone. That's in the past. I don't really think anybody's talking about that much anymore."
Galarraga and Joyce didn't talk to each other about it Friday. They didn't really say much at all. What few words they exchanged served as the bookends for his outing. As Galarraga would warm up to start his innings, Joyce would tell him when he had one warmup toss left.
"One pitch, Armando," Joyce would say.
After Galarraga had thrown his final pitch, retiring O's shortstop Cesar Izturis to end the seventh inning, Galarraga congratulated him on his performance.
"The last inning, I just told him, 'Good job.' That's it," Galarraga said. "Because I know that's my last inning. Sometimes I tell that to umpires."
Joyce was glad to hear it. He was glad they kept things at that.
"There's enough pressure on both of us," Joyce said. "He did his job and I went out and tried to do mine."