Only 23 perfect games have been thrown in major league history, some of them by pitchers who owned otherwise nondescript big league careers.
From that standpoint, one could say that Texas’ Colby Lewis fit the mold of a man who might make history on Friday night. To the A’s relief, he didn’t, as Danny Valencia broke up Lewis’ bid for the perfecto with a leadoff double in the eighth inning of a 4-0 A’s defeat.
You’re forgiven if you don’t remember Lewis’ tenure with the A’s. He appeared in 26 games (with one start) in 2007, compiling an 0-2 record and a 6.45 ERA. From Oakland, he was off to Japan, spending two seasons with the Hiroshima Carp before re-establishing his big league career with the Rangers. He’s 69-66 over parts of 10 seasons in the majors.
Finishing off the perfect game would have put Lewis in the company of names such as Philip Humber and the A’s own Dallas Braden, pitchers whose overall body of work wouldn’t stand out if not for the unlikely perfectos they spun.
Since Lewis’ flirtation with history had us scrambling for A’s perfect game factoids, here’s some background on the only one that was ever thrown against the A’s:
It came way back on May 5, 1904, the first perfect game of baseball’s modern era, and it was thrown by the legendary Cy Young of the Boston Americans (later re-named the Red Sox). He out-dueled Philadelphia A’s Hall of Famer Rube Waddell that day, and it was the extension of quite a pitching rivalry between the aces. Waddell had beaten Young head-to-head just a week earlier, then did a lot of jawing through the press leading up to the rematch.
Young wound up retiring Waddell for the final out of his perfect game and then shouted, “How do you like that, you hayseed!”, in what must have counted as some quality trash talk in 1904.
A’s center fielder Billy Burns was a late scratch Friday with tightness in his right hamstring, and MLB.com reported that Burns could sit out a few games. Sam Fuld, who had missed several games himself recently with back spasms, drew the start in center. He and Craig Gentry figure to handle duties there for as long as Burns is sidelined.
The plan remains for catcher Stephen Vogt to ease back into action in a DH role before possibly getting back behind the plate. He’s been out since Sunday, when he was struck in the groin area by a foul tip and went to the hospital.