In the end, though, a two-out walk to Yonder Alonso broke up Lewis’ perfect-game bid. The Oakland Athletics (27-39) tagged on a pair of hits and a run in the ninth, ending the no-hitter and shutout threat to finish with a 5-1 loss to the division-leading Rangers (42-25).
While its scoreboard impact was purely cosmetic, manager Bob Melvin said that putting something together was important for his team:
“Nobody wants to get (no-hit), it’s embarrassing. Even to go that deep in the game. If there’s a silver lining, we didn’t get no-hit, shut out, perfect game, but still our at-bats — really up until the last inning I think we only hit one ball hard … Not our best offensive performance.”
Heading into the seventh, neither team had scored, and the two squads had combined for just one hit — a second-inning single by Ranger third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Starter Daniel Mengden (L, 0-2, 2.25 ERA) said that he was feeding off the emotion sent his way by Lewis:
“It’s always great, having a pitcher’s duel. He pitched a great game.”
“I’m just trying to go out there and put up as many zeroes as I can, to give our team a chance.”
Riding a stretch of 15 consecutive retired batters — with the latter five coming on strikeouts — the rookie hit a wall.
Including a home run from Ian Desmond (10) to ignite the attack, the Texas bats knocked the rookie out with a three-hit, two-run inning. Mengden finished going 6-1/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one unearned), while walking just one and striking out seven.
Of his starter’s effort, the skipper said:
“Mengden was terrific. You put together two outings like that typically you’re 2-0, maybe you’re a no-decision in a game like this … It’s unfortunate that you pitch that well and we waste two pitching performances like that — in his first two outings of his career.”
Ryan Dull (1-1, 2.31 ERA) was called on to assist the rook and, in striking out Elvis Andrus and Bobby Wilson, he did just that. Leaving the bases full, Dull ran his unscathed streak of inherited runners stranded to 29.
The Rangers would add three more in the eighth, all credited to the record of Fernando Rodriguez (2-0, 2.65 ERA).
Despite his dominance, however, Mengden was hardly the headline act in the Thursday matinee.
Approaching perfection, Lewis (W, 6-0, 2.81 ERA) did not allow an A’s batter to reach base until he walked Alonso with two down in the eighth, making Marcus Semien the first Athletic to face the Texas starter out of the stretch. Semien, who earlier had one of just three well-struck Oakland outs, crushed a liner that appeared ticketed for the left-field corner.
Ryan Rua responded with what looked to be the signature out of a magical day — a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to preserve perfection.
Muncy, who had attempted a push bunt in the sixth inning, said that Lewis’ dominance was seeded in absolute control:
“He just wasn’t missing many of his spots. He was throwing what he wanted to, wherever he wanted to. Tough to hit guys like that, when they’re not missing their spots very much.”
Of his team’s first hit, Muncy added:
“You’re first thought is, ‘thank God.’ No one wants to get no-hit … Then, alright we broke it up now let’s get some runs.”
Although they weren’t able to get much more from Lewis, who finished a complete game allowing one run and two hits, a base hit from Coco Crisp provided Oakland with its lone tally.
The A’s now refocus their attention from the team atop their division to the one directly ahead of them, with Oakland playing host to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (29-37) for a weekend set. Kendall Graveman (2-6, 5.28 ERA) will get the ball for the home team, opposed by Matt Shoemaker (3-7, 4.76 ERA).