Travis Blackley knew Sunday's game would require some extra concentration.
The Reno Aces reliever, who's being stretched back out, was making his fourth start since the beginning of the season and his warmup session in the bullpen wasn't encouraging. His pitches weren't working, his location was off and the stifling temperature at Rosenblatt Stadium threatened to add exhaustion to the list.
"I had to play mind games with myself and let myself know that I really had to knuckle down and put the ball in the right place," Blackley said. "I just said to the catcher [Luke Carlin], 'We better make them hit it today.'"
The Omaha Royals never came close as Blackley dominated for 6 1/3 hitless innings, exiting only after a throwing error put a blemish on his perfect game. The Aces went on to top the Royals, 1-0.
"The whole game, [the no-hitter] wasn't a constant issue," said Blackley, who came close to throwing a no-no twice in 2006. "I wasn't showing it; I was just putting my head down and throwing the next pitch normally. I'm a guy you can usually tell if I feel good or bad, but tonight, you couldn't."
That's because the 26-year-old Australian, who didn't shake off Carlin at all, was focused on one thing -- outdueling his opponent.
"I don't want to lose," said Blackley, who hasn't won as a starter since July 10, 2008. "I've had a couple of games this year where I've thrown well and lost. Even though I didn't get a decision [tonight], it was better than getting a loss."
Of course, retiring 19 of the 20 batters he faced didn't hurt, either. Blackley consistently baffled the Royals with a steady diet of low fastballs, striking out five without issuing a walk in a 75-pitch effort.
Even second baseman Rusty Ryal's seventh-inning error might have been a blessing in disguise as the fatigued Blackley was replaced by reliever Jason Urquidez. J.R. House's leadoff single in the eighth broke up the no-hitter, but Urquidez was able to secure the Aces' sixth shutout.
"I knew from the start [about the perfect game] and I was kind of not hoping for a hit, but I've been relieving most of this year, so I'm not ready to throw 100 pitches," Blackley said.
"My mind wanted to be there, [but] my arm was reminding me that I was getting tired very quickly."
The left-hander, who prefers the "all-out" nature of relieving, is 2-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 30 appearances this season. He made his Major League debut with Seattle in 2004 and, following surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder the same year, reached the big leagues for two games in 2007.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.