Landon Powell admitted he was nervous during Sunday's perfect game in Oakland.
But not for himself.
"I was nervous for him," said Powell, the Oakland Athletics backup catcher, a former South Carolina standout who caught pitcher Dallas Braden's perfect game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"For me, I had to keep calling the same pitches. Baseball is such a game of luck. Every time they swung, I winced. There's so much that can happen."
Powell said he started thinking about Braden's pitching as early as the fourth inning.
"I was thinking about how he had really good stuff, how we had a really good chance to win the game," Powell said.
Thoughts of a no-hitter entered his mind in the sixth inning.
Braden seldom shook off Powell's called pitches. At most, it was "maybe five or six times," Powell said. "It was usually on first pitches. It was whether or not a guy was going to ambush a first pitch."
Powell said Braden kept the Rays off balance with an inside fastball, first-pitch sliders and a screwball.
The toughest out in the 4-0 win was outfielder Gabe Kapler, whose 12-pitch at-bat ended on a pop foul in the sixth inning.
"We kept throwing every pitch he had and couldn't get him," Powell said.
Evan Longoria was booed when he tried to bunt for a hit in the fifth inning.
The Rays were also on the wrong end of the last major league perfect game, which was thrown by Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle in July.
Powell said he was more eager to play defense than to take at-bats. Normally, it's the other way around for Powell, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a double. In the previous seven games, he had one hit.
"I was ready to do anything I had to do to help accomplish it," Powell said. "To have that opportunity, that chance, I was excited."
Powell has caught Braden more than any other pitcher at the professional level. The two have been teammates at three levels of the minor leagues
"I've caught him 70, 80, 90 times, maybe more if you include the Arizona Fall League," Powell said.
The two were both drafted by Oakland in 2004. Powell was taken in the first round, and Braden was taken in the 24th round.
After recovering from a series of injuries, Powell got into the major leagues last season as a backup to catcher Kurt Suzuki. He established himself as a solid defensive backstop but was passed over to make the major league roster this season.
"The team told me I would be backup," Powell said.
When Suzuki strained a muscle in his rib cage, Powell was called up.
"I'm just glad to get that opportunity right now," Powell said.
Late Sunday night, Powell texted Braden.
"I just said that he deserved it," Powell said, mentioning all Braden has gone through, including his mother dying when he was in high school. "To do that on Mother's Day, I was very proud of him. I appreciate him giving me that opportunity. He texted me back and said, 'We did it together.'"