He took peaks and valleys to a new extreme in Thursday's 6-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of a doubleheader. It was either really good or really bad for Lewis. In between never showed up for him at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He gave up five hits and all of them were homers, yet he also had a career-high 12 strikeouts. No pitcher since 1918 has done that.
"It was a freakin' weird game," Lewis said. "I don't know how to justify that game."
Lewis gave up home runs to the first three batters he faced, falling behind 3-0 after just eight pitches as Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis all hit home runs. It was the first time in American League history that a team started a game with three straight homers (fourth time overall).
Lewis then did a tremendous Cy Young impersonation, retiring the next 18 batters he faced -- 11 of them on strikeouts. His slider was nasty, his fastball command solid, and he was unhittable. It was an impressive run and unlikely, given his start.
But in the seventh, he lost his remarkable form and gave up two more home runs -- a solo shot to Adam Jones and a two-run homer to Wilson Betemit, allowing six runs on five hits -- all of them homers. He collected a career-high 12 strikeouts in the process.
"It seemed like one of those days where you have really good stuff and if you miss your spot and it's not just a hit, it's a homer," Lewis said. "It was weird. You can't really look at it any other way. It was a weird game."
Lewis, who is now second in the AL in homers allowed with 11 on the year (so 45 percent of that total came in his seven-inning start Thursday), said he felt he threw good pitches on three of the homers. He'd like the slider back that he threw to Markakis in the first, saying he didn't bury it enough. Markakis hit it off the foul pole in right. And he threw a 2-0 fastball that was too high to Hardy, who is hitting the ball well right now and was looking for a fastball on that count.
"He kept us in the game," manager Ron Washington said. "He settled down and made some adjustments. It was just two innings. It just so happened it was the first and the seventh."
Lewis was still shaking his head after the game. He said he felt great, had good stuff and thought he had the energy to even pitch longer. He said he didn't allow the three straight homers in the first to rattle him.
"I'm not worried about it," Lewis said. "Somebody's going to get out. The best hitters get out seven out of 10 times. Eventually, something is going to happen."