It was smooth, almost unhittable and nearly perfect beauty.

Then it was pure shock.

Glowing questions from national names and faces the rookie had followed as a child.

Shouts and long, warm hugs from young men in their early 20s who’ve known the kid for years. Men who spent 91 games regularly getting beaten up, defeated and embarrassed this season. Minor league teammates and close friends who learned of the first-timer’s arrival late Wednesday and hoped for the best but wondered if a 23-year-old righthander who’s long struggled with mental control and fastball command could survive the burn of Major League Baseball.

Jarred Cosart didn’t just survive his MLB debut Friday at Tropicana Field. He owned, controlled and dominated Tampa Bay during a spot start that was rewarded with a return ticket to Class AAA Oklahoma City.

Cosart threw eight-plus innings of brilliant two-hit shutout ball. The League City native held a no-hitter through 61⁄3 innings. The Clear Creek High School standout outpitched Rays ace lefty David Price, the reigning American League Cy Young winner. And when it all was done and the kid who grew up dreaming of becoming an Astro had thrown one of the best debuts in the 52-year history of the franchise, a previously lost season devoted to another year of slow rebuilding finally had a point of hope.

The Astros edged the Rays 2-1. Cosart exited Tropicana buzzing and shaking and glowing, clutching his cellphone and continuously talking. He believed what had just happened was real. But he knew it was going to take weeks for the night to sink in. And he wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon.

“It’s crazy that just happened,” said Cosart, who struck out two and walked three on 96 pitches (55 strikes). “I just talked to MLB Network and that’s just like — I was 7 years old and you see guys like Harold Reynolds talking on TV. It’s the best moment of my life right now. I can’t imagine it any other way.”

Cosart grew up less than 30 miles away from Minute Maid Park. He watched the Astros’ lone World Series appearance in 2005. He sat in the stands at Tropicana in 2008, when the once-rebuilding Rays shocked baseball and downed the Boston Red Sox in the AL Championship Series. Friday, he nearly made history. He also fought off hard nerves during his pregame warmup session, when he was unable to control the ball as the moment and the meaning nearly washed away the power of his first MLB start.