Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nolan Ryan- All-star Games

Today's all-star tribute is to my favorite all time player Nolan Ryan. Selected for eight all-star games Ryan was only able to play in five of the games with his first two appearances being something we'd like to forget from a legend like Ryan.

 Selected to his first game in 1972 While with the California Angels. Nolan didn't get to pitch in his first all-star game. A tight game that ended in a 4-3 win by the N.L. Only five of the nine A.L. pitchers were used with Ryan being one of the unused.

 In 1973 while still playing for the California Angels Ryan got his first game experience. Ryan pitched two innings the 6th, and 7th. Sadly he walked the first hitter Ron Santo before striking out Stargell. Willie Davis stepped in next, and made Nolan pay with a home run to right field. Another walk followed, but Ryan got out of the inning with a 4-6-3 double play. The seventh started smoother with two groundouts by Russell, and Torre. Bonds doubled to put Nolan in trouble once again. Ryan did what he does best though, and caught Simmons looking to end the inning. With his spot to bat coming up third in the inning Nolan was done for the day. Unfortunately he ended the game giving up two hits, two run both which were earned, two walks, and a 9.00 ERA. On the bright side he did earn two strikeouts out of the six out recorded. In the end Nolan wasn't the only pitcher with problems as the N.L won the game 7-1.

Selected again in 1975 once more Nolan didn't get the opportunity to pitch in the game. With only seven pitchers on the roster both Rollie Fingers, and Ryan went unused in the 6-3 win by the N.L. In 1977 for the third time Ryan went unused in the game. One of four pitchers that didn't get any time on the mound. It would be the last time Ryan didn't play in the game after being selected.

Picked as the starter for the 1979 game. Nolan started strong by striking out the first two hitters Lopes, and Parker. From there the inning went downhill, and fast. A walk to Garvey followed by a triple for Schmidt then a Foster double to make the score 2-0. Winfield finally ended the inning with a line drive out to the right fielder. Still reeling from the bad first Ryan gave up a single to Boone then a flyout by Bowa. Two more singles by Brock, and Lopes came next before a sacrifice fly Parker to score another run. Mercifully the inning ended with a foul ball flyout by Garvey. Bob Stanley replaced Ryan to start the third but not before Ryan had given up 5 hits, 3 runs, all earned, and a 13.50 ERA. Once again Nolan ended the game with two more strikeouts. As with his first four games the N.L. went on to win 7-6.

Moving on from California to the Houston Astros, Ryan got his sixth all-star selection. Unlike his prior all-star games Ryan was on top of his game. Pitching the eighth inning Nolan wasted no time in getting Tony Armas to strikeout followed by a Buddy Bell flyout to center, and Eddie Murray groundout to 2nd. Finally on the winning end of an N.L. 5-4 victory. Ryan ended the game getting a hold as Vida Blue got the win, and Bruce Sutter the save.

Four more years would pass before Ryan would once again make another all-star game in 1985. Getting what would be his longest outing for an all-star game Ryan pitched three innings the 4th, 5th, and 6th. Starting fast once more by getting Brett, Murray, and Ripken with a groundout, a foul ball caught by the catcher, and another groundout. Ryan had a touch tougher fifth by giving a single to Winfield. A Rice strikeout, and Winfield stealing second was followed by Fisk flying out to left. Cooper walked before Henderson struckout to end the fifth. The sixth got interesting again as Garcia flew out to right, then Brett walked, before Murray lined out to left. A Ripken infield single was the start of a rally which ended just as fast as it started with Winfield grounding out to second. Ending the game it was all deuces for Nolan as he gave up 2 hits, got 2 strikeouts, and gave up 2 walks. As had been the trend in all Ryan's games the N.L. won again 6-1

Appearing in what would be his last all-star game in 1989 while playing for Texas. Nolan pitched both the 2nd, and 3rd innings. It would be fitting that it was his best game of the five appearances made during his career. A foul ball flyout by Sandberg, Santiago strikeout, and Smith flyout to 3rd ended a quick inning. The third started with a Gwynn single, and a steal before Ryan struck out Clark. Mitchell followed with another K looking, before Davis flew out to right. Facing only seven hitters, and striking out three of those. For the first time in a Nolan Ryan all-star game the A.L. won 5-3. Not only did the A.L. get the victory, but Ryan was tabbed with the win as well.

Nolan ended his all-star career with five appearances in eight games. Giving up a total of 10 hits with 1979 being the worst with 5 hits for the one game. Five runs were scored while he was on the mound with two coming from the lone home run he surrendered. The ten strikeouts were a disappointment from the all-time leader in K's with his average being one per inning pitched. Sadly his ERA started off high with his first two games being 9.00, and 13.50. Things got better as he never gave up another run to end with a 4.50 ERA for the five games. Personally I think he did a decent job career wise for a pitcher. You figure he faced the toughest lineup you can face, and in his last three games owned the competition.

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