On Thursday, Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis was three outs from twirling a no-hitter against the Athletics (TEX 5, OAK 1) when this happened ...
That's obviously a tough play for Nomar Mazara. He got a glove on it but lost his grip on the ball after he banged into the wall. That's an especially tough play when you're in the road ballpark, where the track and wall aren't as familiar. It's also an obviously correct decision by the official scorer to call it a hit. Lewis, it should be noted, had a perfect game until he issued a two-out walk to Yonder Alonso in the eighth.
Anyhow, after Max Muncy's double shown above, Lewis induced a ground-out from Billy Burns before allowing an RBI double to Coco Crisp. Two fly-outs later, Lewis had a complete-game two-hitter. If Mazara makes that difficult snare, though, it's possible Lewis finishes the job. A different result from Muncy's at-bat would like change the pitch sequence and maybe even Crisp's approach at the plate. It's impossible to say, of course, but Lewis may have been mere inches from an appointment with history.
What's far more certain is that Lewis has been quite good in 2016. After Thursday's gem, he's now running an ERA of 2.81 with 58 strikeouts against 18 walks, all unintentional. On the run prevention front, he's been excellent. However, there are some concerns about sustainability. First, Lewis has a BABIP of .249 versus a career mark of .296. That could correct in the weeks to come. He's also stranded 84 percent of opposing base-runners, which is elevated relative to the league norm and relative to Lewis' career mark of 70.2 percent. That's also likely to draw more in line with his established levels. If/when those things happen, Lewis' ERA is going to rise.
Sometimes, a change in approach or skills growth and can underpin better results on batted balls. However, Lewis' velocity has continued its decline (that's what you'd expect from a pitcher in his age-36 season), and his pitch mix hasn't changed very much. It's of course possible he'll keep this up, but it's not likely. That doesn't take away from his Thursday brilliance or the value of his 2016 season to date, but it's something to monitor as we get deeper into the 2016 season.