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This Time, Ryan Didn’t Want to Lose It in Son

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Eighteen years after Nolan Ryan lost a potential no-hitter to the New York Yankees at Anaheim Stadium, justice has been served.

In August of 1973, while pitching for the Angels, Ryan badly fooled Yankee catcher Thurman Munson on a first-inning pitch. Munson lofted a seemingly harmless pop fly to shallow center field, but the ball dropped untouched when shortstop Rudy Meoli and second baseman Sandy Alomar played Alphonse and Gaston.

The official scorer ruled the play a hit.

Ryan did not allow another hit.

Wednesday night in Arlington, Tex., Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. He recorded the final out with a strikeout. The batter was Roberto Alomar, Sandy’s son.

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Add Blue Jays: Ryan’s 16-strikeout performance against Toronto was his best against the Blue Jays since June 8, 1977, when he struck out 19 in a 10-inning game.

Trivia time: How many of Ryan’s potential no-hitters were broken up in the ninth inning?

Ryan rankings: Columnist Randy Galloway of the Dallas Morning News writes that of Ryan’s seven no-hitters, Wednesday’s was “easily the most impressive.”

Some, though, would favor his second no-hitter, against the Detroit Tigers, July 15, 1973. In that game, Ryan struck out 17. He had 16 through seven innings, but his arm stiffened in the dugout when the Angels scored five runs in the top of the eighth.

In a tribute to Ryan’s dominance, Norm Cash, the game’s final batter, approached the plate with a giant table leg he had removed from some clubhouse furniture. Umpire Ron Luciano ordered Cash back to the dugout for a regulation bat. Cash popped up for the final out.

Add rankings: Ryan still contends that one of the greatest games he ever pitched was a one-hitter against the Boston Red Sox, July 9, 1972. Ryan struck out 16, including eight in a row. He struck out the side on nine pitches in one inning. Ryan walked Tommy Harper to open the game, struck out the second batter, allowed a ground-ball single to Carl Yastrzemski, then retired the next 26 batters.

Here’s Johnny: In his next start, Ryan will make his seventh attempt to match Johnny Vander Meer’s record of consecutive no-hitters. Ryan has come close twice. After his second no-hitter in 1973, Ryan pitched seven hitless innings against Baltimore before allowing a bloop single in the eighth to shortstop Mark Belanger, a .226 hitter that year. Ryan lost the game, 3-1, in 11 innnings.

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And after his fourth no-hitter in 1975, Ryan took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Milwaukee. It was broken up with two outs on a ground-ball single by Henry Aaron.

Rubber arm: Hard to believe in today’s era of pitch counts, but Ryan once threw 241 pitches in a game with the Angels.

Sounds good to me: Former umpire Luciano likes to tell the story of the time he called Detroit outfielder Mickey Stanley out on three pitches by Ryan. Afterward, Stanley turned to Luciano and said: “Thank you.”

“What?” Luciano asked.

“I couldn’t hit those pitches, no matter what,” Stanley said. “Those were the greatest pitches I ever heard.”

Trivia answer: Five. All were broken up with one out. Ryan ended up losing one of the games and had no-decision in another. Ryan has 12 one-hitters and 19 two-hitters.

Quotebook: Former slugger Reggie Jackson, on facing Ryan: “Ryan’s the only guy who put fear in me. Not because he could get me out, but because he could kill me. . . . You just hoped to mix in a walk so you could have a good night and go 0 for 3.”

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