MILWAUKEE, AUG. 1 -- Given the slight chance a Nolan Ryan critic still exists somewhere out there, let him consider the testimony of Robin Yount, who spent much of Tuesday evening like so many have -- unable to catch up to the runaway Ryan Express.
"He's always overpowering," said Yount, center fielder and senior member of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team Ryan beat here Tuesday night to earn career victory No. 300, adding to his six no-hitters, 5,200-plus strikeouts and 40 miscellaneous records.
"It was a very typical Ryan performance," said Yount, whose third-inning triple accounted for the only earned run off Ryan in 7 2/3 innings of work. "Nolan throws harder than 95 percent of the guys in the league."
Skeptics used to label Ryan one-dimensional, a no-hit novelty, a flamethrower who would burn out. But now, having defeated the Brewers, 11-3, to improve his record to 300-267, Ryan's place in history can't be questioned. Only 19 pitchers before him won 300 or more games, and speculation is growing he could be the last.
He, predictably, reacted calmly to his latest -- and maybe greatest -- milestone, citing relief more than joy after the game, in which he needed a save from Brad Arnsberg and a six-run Texas ninth before leaving County Stadium in triumph.
"I really don't know what, in the scheme of things, it's going to mean to me personally," said Ryan, who last week failed in his first attempt at No. 300, in Texas against the New York Yankees. "I've gotten a lot of satisfaction out of what I've accomplished late in my career, some of the longevity things I've accomplished.
"I'm not one to reflect back on my career in depth. I'm sure that at some point I will."
When Ryan (11-4 this season) finally decides to analyze this victory, he'll remember it wasn't easy. For four innings he was outpitched by Chris Bosio, who retired the first 12 Rangers he faced. Then, just when it seemed Ryan would finish the game, second baseman Julio Franco erred twice in the eighth and the Brewers had two unearned runs that cut Ryan's lead to 5-3 and caused Manager Bobby Valentine to do the unthinkable -- pull him.
Valentine's decision wasn't popular with the throng of 51,533, who hadn't forgotten Ryan's success in the fifth, sixth and seventh, when he had five of his eight strikeouts and didn't yield a hit. But he said later he "didn't at any time anticipate finishing the game," giving Arnsberg, who came into 1990 with one career save, a precious opportunity in the spotlight.
When asked if there was anyone he'd rather save a game for, Arnsberg was quick to answer "No."
He added: "There really wasn't a whole lot of extra pressure. Nolan put me at ease. . . . I don't know if I put him at ease, but I said it'll be done, and luckily it was done."
Said Geno Petralli, the catcher, "It's hard for me to describe how exciting this really is. It's the biggest moment in my career, I'm sure, and it probably will be. It seemed like after the fourth he reached back and got himself to a different level. I think anybody that's ever caught him would understand."
Aside from having sons Reid and Reese with him for his record triumph, perhaps the biggest upside to Ryan's 300th victory is the normalcy that accompanies it. It had been a long two weeks for him, with a media horde of more than 250 tracking his every move. Now he can enjoy both.
"I'm probably one of the worst people around as far as celebrations are concerned," he said. "I guess not celebrating will just let things return to normal."