By Geoff Bilau - Angelswin.com Editor
Nolan Ryan pitched far more than one man’s fair share of dominant games while wearing an Angels uniform, including all of those games with 10 or more strikeouts, six one-hitters and, of course, four no-hitters — none, perhaps, more dominating than this game in Detroit.
Two months to the day after tossing his first no-no in Kansas City, Ryan again seemed up to the task from the get-go. He struck out seven of the first 10 Tigers he faced, including fanning the side in the second inning.
A Vada Pinson sacrifice fly in the third inning gave the Angels an early 1-0 lead, but it would be all Ryan would have to work with for most of the game. On this day, it was plenty.
Ryan fanned the side in the fourth and added two more strikeouts in the fifth. In the seventh, he struck out the side again.
In the top of the eighth, the Angels erupted for five runs and the drama over who would win the game was mostly gone. But by this point, the focus had shifted to the zero in the Tigers’ hit column and the 16 in their strikeout column.
Detroit went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, the middle out coming on Ryan’s strikeout of shortstop Ed Brinkman. It was Ryan’s 17th strikeout of the game, the highest total of any of his no-hitters and one short of Bob Feller’s American League record at the time.
After retiring Mickey Stanley on a groundout and Gates Brown on a soft liner to start the ninth, Ryan needed only to get 15-year veteran first baseman Norm Cash to seal the deal. Having struck out in each of his previous three plate appearances, Cash strode up to home plate carrying not his bat, but rather a table leg he’d grabbed from the Tigers clubhouse.
The umpire immediately ordered Cash to return with a regulation bat, an order to which he begrudgingly complied, telling the umpire it wasn’t as if it mattered anyway.
With his regular bat, Cash hit a harmless pop up to Angels shortstop Rudy Meoli and Ryan completed the second no-hitter of his career.
"This was definitely a bigger thrill than the first one,” Ryan said after the game. “I had better stuff today and I knew what a no-hitter meant. I was a little more nervous, but I probably had as good as stuff today as I've had all year."
Ryan thoroughly tamed the Tigers in 1973, finishing the season 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 39 innings.