Team carries Ryan off the field
(c) Houston Astros
|September 26, 1981 - When Nolan Ryan took the mound against the Dodgers on that Saturday in late September, his primary goal was to win and keep the Astros at least 1 1/2 games ahead of the Reds in the National League West. Even though the Astros had started the season poorly, the mid-season strike in 1981 and the resulting "split season" playoff format had kept alive the Astros' hopes of reaching the post-season. Ryan's start against the Dodgers was the NBC Game of the Week and was broadcast to a national audience. NBC was not disappointed. Ryan hurled the fifth no-hitter of his career, breaking a tie with Sandy Koufax for the most career no-hitters. Most of all, the win kept the Astros ahead of the Reds with just eight games left to play. The Astros would go on to win the "second half" and meet the Dodgers in the first-ever National League Divisional Series. Although the Astros were unable to beat the Dodgers, Ryan finished the season as the National League's ERA leader with a microscopic 1.69 ERA.|
Without his good fastball, Ryan was forced to rely heavily on his curve
(c) Houston Astros
Ryan fires bullets in the 9th inning
(c) Houston Astros
Craig Reynolds rushes to congratulate Ryan
(c) Houston Astros
His teammates carry Ryan off the field
(c) Houston Astros
from Wire Reports, Sept. 27, 1981
The 34-year-old righthander became the first pitcher to throw five career no-hitters. It has been six years since Ryan's last no-hitter, the last of four he pitched for the California Angels.
"It's hard to believe I got the no-hitter," said Ryan, who struck out 11. "It's the one thing I wanted. I've had a shot at it for a long time. At my age, I thought I wouldn't get it. I don't have the stamina I used to have. I didn't challenge guys in the later innings."
"I really didn't feel like I had good velocity today," said Ryan (10-5) who leads the National League with a 1.74 earned run average. "but I got ahead on my curve balls."
"The key was my curve ball. You can't win with one pitch. It doesn't matter how fast you can throw, but with a curve they had to think about the breaking ball."
Ryan was tied with Sandy Koufax for the most no-hitters in a career. In 1973, while with the Angels, he no-hit Kansas City 3-0 on May 15 and Detroit 6-0 on July 15. The next year he no-hit Minnesota 4-0 on Sept. 28, and recorded the last of his four no-hitters with the Angels on June 1, 1975 against Baltimore, winning 1-0. He signed with Houston in 1980.
Ryan also has thrown seven one-hitters.
In the final inning, Ryan fanned pinch-hitter Reggie Smith on three pitches for his 11th strikeout of the game. Ken Landreaux grounded out to Denny Walling at first base, then Ryan completed the masterpiece by getting Dusty Baker to ground out to Art Howe at third base.
"I really didn't think about the no-hitter. I knew I had one going," Ryan said. "When the catcher hit the ball and it was caught, I thought I might have a shot at it."
Speaking of Koufax, Ryan said "He's the most overpowering pitcher I've seen since I've been playing the game and probably the best left-hander ever."
"I'm excited it's finally over with. I'm the only one since Koufax who has had a shot at the record. I really don't compare myself to him. I thought it was a great honor when I broke his strikeout record and I've got that same feeling now."
"This is by far the most important of my no-hitters. I went into the game feeling like I had to do a good job and this turned into one of the biggest games of the year. My others were with ballclubs that weren't doing well and I was still young and trying to get established."
"Early in the game, Nolan didn't have a good fastball," said catcher Alan Ashby. "It's just an awesome feeling. Right next to Nolan and his family, I think I felt it the most."
Ryan's biggest problem was his own control in the second and third innings. Steve Garvey drew a leadoff walk in the second and stole second base. Ryan struck out Pedro Guerrero and Scioscia but uncorked a wild pitch to move Garvey to third. Ryan got Ron Roenicke on a pop to Howe to end the threat.
In the sixth, Ryan notched his 135th career game in which he struck out 10 or more batters by setting down Baker on three pitches.
The last time the Dodgers were no-hit was Aug. 9, 1976 by John Candelaria of Pittsburgh.
It was the third no-hitter in the majors this season. Len Barker of Cleveland threw a perfect game against Toronto, 3-0 on May 15, and Charlie Lea of Montreal no-hit San Francisco 4-0 on May 27.
Game of 9/26/1981 -- Los Angeles at Houston (D) Courtesy of Retrosheet Los Angeles AB R H RBI Houston AB R H RBI Lopes D, 2b 3 0 0 0 Puhl T, rf 4 1 1 0 Smith R, ph 1 0 0 0 Garner P, 2b 4 0 2 1 Landreaux K, cf 3 0 0 0 Scott T, cf 5 1 0 0 Baker D, lf 4 0 0 0 Cruz J, lf 4 1 3 1 Garvey S, 1b 2 0 0 0 Ashby A, c 4 0 1 2 Guerrero P, 3b 3 0 0 0 Howe A, 3b 4 0 0 0 Scioscia M, c 3 0 0 0 Spilman H, 1b 2 0 0 0 Roenicke R, rf 3 0 0 0 Pittman J, ph 1 0 1 0 Thomas D, ss 2 0 0 0 Walling D, 1b 0 1 0 0 Power T, p 1 0 0 0 Reynolds C, ss 4 1 2 1 Goltz D, p 0 0 0 0 Ryan N, p 2 0 1 0 Perconte J, ph 1 0 0 0 Forster T, p 0 0 0 0 Johnstone J, ph 1 0 0 0 Stewart D, p 0 0 0 0 Howe S, p 0 0 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 27 0 0 0 34 5 11 5 Los Angeles 000 000 000 -- 0 Houston 002 000 03x -- 5 Los Angeles IP H R ER BB SO Power T (L) 3.1 6 2 1 3 1 Goltz D 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 Forster T 3.0 2 0 0 1 2 Stewart D 0.1 2 3 3 2 0 Howe S 0.2 1 0 0 0 0 Houston IP H R ER BB SO Ryan N (W) 9.0 0 0 0 3 11 Game winning RBI -- Ashby A E -- Thomas D LOB -- Los Angeles 3, Houston 12 2B -- Cruz J, Reynolds C 3B -- Reynolds C SB -- Garner P, Garvey S, Thomas D, Cruz J CS -- Garner P SH -- Ryan N WP -- Ryan N, Stewart D PB -- Scioscia M T -- 2:46 A -- 32115
Play by Play
Game of Saturday, 9/26/1981 -- Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Courtesy of Retrosheet Starting Lineups: Los Angeles Houston 1. 2B Davey Lopes RF Terry Puhl 2. CF Ken Landreaux 2B Phil Garner 3. LF Dusty Baker CF Tony Scott 4. 1B Steve Garvey LF Jose Cruz 5. 3B Pedro Guerrero C Alan Ashby 6. C Mike Scioscia 3B Art Howe 7. RF Ron Roenicke 1B Harry Spilman 8. SS Derrel Thomas SS Craig Reynolds 9. P Ted Power P Nolan Ryan DODGERS 1ST: D.Lopes grounded out (C.Reynolds-ss to H.Spilman-1b) K.Landreaux was called out on strikes D.Baker grounded out (P.Garner-2b to H.Spilman-1b) 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0. ASTROS 1ST: T.Puhl grounded out (S.Garvey-1b unassisted) P.Garner walked P.Garner stole second T.Scott struck out J.Cruz walked A.Ashby popped to D.Lopes-2b 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0. DODGERS 2ND: S.Garvey walked S.Garvey stole second N.Ryan threw a wild pitch [S.Garvey to third] P.Guerrero struck out M.Scioscia was called out on strikes R.Roenicke popped to A.Howe-3b 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0. ASTROS 2ND: A.Howe grounded out (D.Thomas-ss to S.Garvey-1b) H.Spilman grounded out (D.Lopes-2b to S.Garvey-1b) C.Reynolds tripled to right field N.Ryan walked T.Puhl popped to S.Garvey-1b 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0. DODGERS 3RD: D.Thomas walked D.Thomas stole second T.Power struck out D.Lopes was called out on strikes K.Landreaux walked D.Baker grounded out (P.Garner-2b to H.Spilman-1b) 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 0. ASTROS 3RD: P.Garner singled to left field P.Garner was caught stealing second (M.Scioscia-c to D.Thomas-ss) T.Scott reached on an error by D.Thomas-ss [T.Scott to first] J.Cruz doubled to right field [T.Scott to third] A.Ashby singled to center field [T.Scott scored (unearned), J.Cruz scored] A.Howe flied to R.Roenicke-rf H.Spilman flied to K.Landreaux-cf 2 R (1 ER), 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. DODGERS 4TH: S.Garvey struck out P.Guerrero flied to T.Puhl-rf M.Scioscia struck out 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. ASTROS 4TH: C.Reynolds grounded out (D.Lopes-2b to S.Garvey-1b) N.Ryan singled to center field T.Puhl singled to right field [N.Ryan to second] D.GOLTZ REPLACED T.POWER (PITCHING) P.Garner forced T.Puhl (P.Guerrero-3b to D.Lopes-2b) [N.Ryan to third, P.Garner to first] T.Scott grounded out (D.Goltz-p to S.Garvey-1b) 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. DODGERS 5TH: R.Roenicke flied to T.Puhl-rf D.Thomas grounded out (A.Howe-3b to H.Spilman-1b) J.PERCONTE BATTED FOR D.GOLTZ J.Perconte struck out 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. ASTROS 5TH: T.FORSTER REPLACED J.PERCONTE (PITCHING) J.Cruz singled to right field J.Cruz stole second A.Ashby flied to D.Baker-lf A.Howe grounded out (D.Thomas-ss to S.Garvey-1b) J.PITTMAN BATTED FOR H.SPILMAN J.Pittman singled to shortstop [J.Cruz to third] C.Reynolds grounded out (D.Thomas-ss to S.Garvey-1b) 0 R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. DODGERS 6TH: D.WALLING REPLACED J.PITTMAN (PLAYING 1B) D.Lopes struck out K.Landreaux grounded out (P.Garner-2b to D.Walling-1b) D.Baker struck out 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. ASTROS 6TH: N.Ryan struck out T.Puhl grounded out (D.Lopes-2b to S.Garvey-1b) P.Garner struck out 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. DODGERS 7TH: S.Garvey grounded out (P.Garner-2b to D.Walling-1b) P.Guerrero grounded out (C.Reynolds-ss to D.Walling-1b) M.Scioscia flied to T.Puhl-rf 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. ASTROS 7TH: T.Scott popped to D.Lopes-2b J.Cruz grounded out (T.Forster-p to S.Garvey-1b) A.Ashby walked A.Howe forced A.Ashby (P.Guerrero-3b to D.Lopes-2b) [A.Howe to first] 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. DODGERS 8TH: R.Roenicke flied to J.Cruz-lf D.Thomas grounded out (P.Garner-2b to D.Walling-1b) J.JOHNSTONE BATTED FOR T.FORSTER J.Johnstone grounded out (P.Garner-2b to D.Walling-1b) 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 2. ASTROS 8TH: D.STEWART REPLACED J.JOHNSTONE (PITCHING) D.Walling walked D.Stewart threw a wild pitch [D.Walling to second] C.Reynolds doubled to right field [D.Walling scored] N.Ryan out on a sacrifice bunt (S.Garvey-1b unassisted) [C.Reynolds to third] T.Puhl was walked intentionally P.Garner singled to left field [C.Reynolds scored, T.Puhl to second] S.HOWE REPLACED D.STEWART (PITCHING) T.Scott flied to R.Roenicke-rf J.Cruz singled to right field [T.Puhl scored, P.Garner to second] M.Scioscia allowed a passed ball [P.Garner to third, J.Cruz to second] A.Ashby flied to D.Baker-lf 3 R, 3 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 5. DODGERS 9TH: R.SMITH BATTED FOR D.LOPES R.Smith struck out K.Landreaux grounded out (D.Walling-1b unassisted) D.Baker grounded out (A.Howe-3b to D.Walling-1b) 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Dodgers 0, Astros 5. Final Totals R H E LOB Dodgers 0 0 1 3 Astros 5 11 0 12