CINCINNATI — The Ryan Express has an honored passenger, a hard-throwin' fellow Texan who wears the same number and has a nickname derived from a movie.
Homer "Batman" Bailey? Come aboard!
The right-hander made a little no-hitter history on Tuesday night, throwing his second in 10 months and the first in the majors this season. The Cincinnati Reds' 3-0 win over the struggling San Francisco Giants gave Bailey another moment as big as his home state.
It was Ryan-esque.
"Obviously being from Texas and what a legend he is," said Bailey, who wears No. 34 in tribute to his boyhood hero. "To do it once is extra special. To do it twice — I don't really have the words for it right now."
They do back home.
"He comes from the state of Texas that has produced a lot of no-hitters," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who made the final out in Nolan Ryan's fifth no-hitter. "It means a lot — and he's still got some time left."
Ryan holds the record with seven career no-hitters. Bailey was so enamored with the fellow Texan — Ryan hails from Alvin, Bailey from La Grange — that he chose his No. 34 to honor him. His fastball and his strikeouts aren't up to Ryan's level, but he's starting to catch up on those no-hitters.
And the folks back in Texas are paying attention.
As soon as Bailey got Gregor Blanco on a routine groundout to end it, the videoboard at Minute Maid Park in Houston flashed: "La Grange native Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds has just thrown his second career no-hitter."
And not just a second no-hitter — the second consecutive no-hitter in the majors.
Last year was the season of the no-no with seven in all, tying a modern record. By July 2, five already had been thrown. Bailey contributed the last one of the bunch, a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28.
Seventeen starts later, he threw the first one of 2013 and made his home state proud.
The last pitcher to throw such back-to-back no-hitters in the majors was Ryan, according to STATS. Baseball's career strikeout king did it for the California Angels on Sept. 28, 1974, against Minnesota, and again on June 1, 1975, vs. Baltimore.
This one was as easy as could be. The defending World Series champions are in a deep hitting funk — two runs or less in nine of their last 12 games. They only came close to a hit one time.
Bailey (5-6) walked Gregor Blanco leading off the seventh, the only Giants batter to reach base. Blanco advanced on a groundout then made the out that settled San Francisco's only close call.
Buster Posey hit a soft one-hopper that pulled Joey Votto away from first base. Bailey got a slow break off the mound to cover the bag, setting up what would have been a close play. Maybe Posey beats Bailey to the base for an infield hit.
"That would have been a sad way to lose a no-hitter," Baker said.