Lewis Talks About Perfect Start; Time In Bigs

SACRAMENTO - On Sunday night, right-hander Colby Lewis made his first start for the River Cats since early May, and it was a good one. Lewis, who spent more than two months in Oakland as a member of the A's bullpen, threw five perfect innings in his return to Triple-A. He spoke to reporters after the game about his perfect outing, his time in Oakland, his decision to stay with the A's, and more.

Only a pitch count could keep Colby Lewis from making history on Sunday night in Sacramento. The right-hander was dominating in his first outing back in Triple-A after spending two-and-a-half months at the major league level. In five innings, Lewis didn't allow a base-runner and he struck out eight batters. He was on a 60-pitch limit, so Lewis was lifted after five innings and 57 pitches with the perfect game still intact.

The outing was Colby Lewis' first start since May, when he had a disastrous outing for the Oakland A's against the Chicago White Sox. After that start, Lewis moved into the A's bullpen, where he made 18 relief appearances. He had a 5.24 ERA in 22 relief innings for the A's, striking out 13 and walking eight. Last Monday, Lewis was designated for assignment when the A's had to make room for Dallas Braden on the 25-man roster.

Lewis cleared waivers later in the week and chose to report to Sacramento rather than become a free agent. Including Sunday night, Lewis has a 2.10 ERA in nine starts for the River Cats this season (the other eight starts came in April and early May when Lewis was with Sacramento). He is 5-1 in those nine starts with a 55:14 K:BB ratio.

Lewis spoke with reporters after Sunday's Sacramento victory over Salt Lake to talk about his strong return to Triple-A, his time in Oakland and more…

Question: That must have been a fun outing for you.

Colby Lewis: Definitely. It's always fun to retire 15 in a row. It would have been nice to have the pitch count up to see how far I could have taken it.

Q: When we spoke to [Sacramento manager] Tony DeFrancesco, he said that you would be up to 90 pitches in your next outing. That probably would have gotten you through the game in this one.

CL: Oh, 90? [laughs] I think we'll probably increase by 10 or 15 [pitches] in my next outing. I'd just like to be able to throw that many pitches per inning [in a normal start]. It is always nice to be at only [57] pitches in five innings.

Q: Was this game a statement game for you to say ‘I am a starter?' You only got that one start in the big leagues and nothing went right for you and then you never got another chance to start.

CL: That was a situation where [the A's] had something like four or five lefties in the bullpen at the time. Me and [Lenny] DiNardo flip-flopped at that point and they put me in the bullpen. It gave us a chance to have another righty in the bullpen. It would have been nice to go out there and have another start, but up there, it's just all about winning ballgames so whatever I needed to do was fine.

Q: What is your mindset for the rest of this season?

CL: We've got a little over five weeks here [in the minor league season] and the way things are rolling, it looks like we might be going to the playoffs and have the opportunity to win the PCL. We'll see what happens up in the big leagues, whether more trades are going to happen and stuff like that. Other than that, I just need to keep pitching well here and hopefully they purchase my contract again and if not, I'll just go home at the end of the year.

I was fortunate enough last year to win the International League title with Toledo, so I'll win a PCL title, too. I'm all for it. [laughs]

Q: Had you ever thrown a no-hitter or a perfect game before in your career?

CL: No. I think this start might be the second one where I have gone perfect [through five innings].

Q: Were you aware of the perfect game?

CL: I actually looked up in the fifth and kind of realized that I hadn't walked anybody and nobody had gotten on. When I got to the last out [in the fifth], I kind of just told myself to keep the ball down and get the last out. I knew I was going to be done after that inning. I just wanted to finish off the start well with that last hitter.

Q: You really made a lot of hitters look downright silly tonight.

CL: A lot of these guys say that it is tough to see with the backdrop and stuff like that with the sun being where it is at, so that kind of played into it a little bit. I definitely had some good stuff, though.

Q: Is there anything that you are working on based on your time in the big leagues?

CL: Basically, really locating the fastball. I feel like a couple of times I really got hurt up there leaving the ball in the ‘zone a little too much. Just really working down in the ‘zone with my fastball. My curveball was good whenever I needed it [in the big leagues]. Other than that, it was really that I needed to locate the fastball and get ahead of guys and being able to get outs.

Q: Did the A's talk to you about what their plans were for you when you were sent down?

CL: I didn't have any more options left and I had to be put on waivers and no other team picked me up, so it wasn't a clear situation. Being from Bakersfield, and with only five weeks left [in the minor league season], I wasn't going to go sign with another Triple-A team or another team and go to Triple-A. I'd rather stay here [in Sacramento].

Q: Were you happy to clear waivers then?

CL: If I didn't clear, I'd have to go to the big leagues with any team that took me. But [once he cleared waivers] I wasn't going to go out and exercise my free agency and say, ‘no, I'm not going to report to Sacramento.' Once I cleared, I said, ‘yeah, sure, I'll report [to Sacramento]. I had 72 hours to report. I could have reported [on Sunday rather than earlier in the week when he did report], but I said, ‘you know, I just want to get back out there, get a bullpen in and get back after it.' I wanted to show them that I want to pitch.

Q: What was the mood of the A's during the last few weeks when the team wasn't playing very well?

CL: I think any time of you have that many injuries and that number of transactions, especially here in Triple-A, it's tough to get camaraderie and have a set group that is going out there everyday. Of course, you have two, three, four guys up there who are well-below their career averages. All of that comes into play: when you have guys who aren't performing the way they have in the past and with a group of guys that is fluctuating so much, it is tough to win.

Q: Was it good for your confidence to be up in the big leagues for an extended period since it had been a few years since you were last in the majors for an extend timeframe?

CL: Yeah. It is always a boost to your confidence to come off of a big injury and have an injury-free season like I did last year and get a couple of innings with Detroit in the big leagues and then pitch well here and get called up for a couple months. It's definitely a good situation that makes you feel like you can still do it and that you can still make it back there.

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