Colby Lewis doesn’t usually show his emotions on the mound.
So it was no surprise that when a leadoff double in the eighth inning broke up his bid for a perfect game, the Texas Rangers’ right-hander barely flinched as the 28,133 in attendance stood to salute the 36-year-old, 10-year veteran.
Lewis held the Oakland Athletics to two hits in a 4-0 shutout Friday night as the Rangers opened a 10-game homestand at Globe Life Park.
He was six outs away from throwing the first perfect game since Seattle’s Felix Hernandez on Aug. 15, 2012.
In front of a throng of reporters after the game, Lewis finally flashed some emotion. But it wasn’t about his near-perfection or even the Rangers’ victory, which helped them keep pace for a postseason berth.
“I do want to thank all the service men and women out there on a night like this,” said Lewis, on a day the country and major league stadiums paid tribute to those lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“It’s a pretty cool deal to do it on a night like this. My job is a real easy compared to what they do on a daily basis. I get kind of emotional about that kind of stuff.”
The heartfelt nod, with tears welling in his eyes, was about the only thing that got to Lewis on Friday.
He zipped through the A’s lineup, throwing just seven pitches in the first, 10 in the second and 11 in the third.
His defense came up big, too. Shin-Soo Choo made a long running catch in the right-center gap before getting tripped up by center fielder Delino DeShields for the second out in the fourth.
DeShields sprinted in to make a diving catch on a shallow blooper in center to end the fourth. Second baseman Rougned Odor made an acrobatic catch on a sinking looper in shallow right for the first out in the sixth. By then, the entire stadium was aware of Lewis’ historic start.
“I didn’t really know what was going on until the seventh inning,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “I looked up to the scoreboard just to see how many outs there were, and I saw a bunch of zeroes and it kind of hit me.”
Lewis struck out four, including Brett Lawrie looking on a backdoor curve for the second out in the fifth.
“The fact that Colby was able to locate his slider tonight was crucial for us to be able to do what we did,” said Gimenez, who had two hits — including a leadoff double in the seventh that led to a run and a 4-0 Texas lead. “I could tell in the bullpen he had good stuff tonight, but I didn’t know we were going to do what we did.”
He retired 21 consecutive batters on 69 pitches through seven innings before Danny Valencia jumped on a hanging 0-1 slider for a double on Lewis’ 71st pitch.
“He tipped his cap when he got to second, which was pretty cool,” Lewis said. “It was a good baseball night. Me not really pitching up to par the last couple of starts, I just wanted to go out there and have a good game, really. Nothing was really any different than any other night. I was just able to get quick outs.”
Lewis got to three balls on just three hitters, including Lawrie in the eighth, before striking him out for the second time. The 21 retired batters to start a game was the most by a Rangers pitcher since Yu Darvish retired 26 Astros in Houston in 2013.
He’s also the first Rangers pitcher to throw a shutout and allow two hits or fewer since Derek Holland on June 27, 2013, at the Yankees.
In fact, to put Lewis’ night in context, the last Texas right-hander to throw a shutout with two hits or fewer was Nolan Ryan in his seventh no-hitter in May 1991.
“I don’t look at myself as having no-hitter or perfect-game stuff, so I was like whatever,” Lewis said of his reaction to Valencia’s double. “You still have to do your job. I don’t throw 97 [mph] and have devastating stuff.”
Josh Phegley singled off third baseman Adrian Beltre’s glove in the ninth for Oakland’s second hit, but two lineouts and a groundout finished off the gem for Lewis.
“He settled in and really got the breaking ball in play nice and sharp, the fastball down and away, and the fastball up,” manager Jeff Banister said. “What a fun game to watch all the way around.”