This truly is the Year of the Pitcher. Some of the best in baseball have tossed no-hitters and perfect games, but so have relative unknowns. Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis didn’t throw either on this night, but his start—as so many outings have this postseason—exemplified how dominant those gracing the mound have been. He, who pitched in Japan not long ago, shut down the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series and was at it again against the San Francisco Giants in front of a raucous crowd desperate for a victory.

Power pitchers have proved their worth this season, but if anything, this year has shown that one doesn’t have to throw in the high nineties to succeed. Lewis illustrated that once more, as a right-hander far more reliant on location and focused on changing speeds than lighting up the radar gun. Topping out at 92 doesn’t matter in this day and age. Accurate placement can translate into dominance. The Giants can attest to that.

The 30-year-old flirted with danger early on, allowing two to reach in the first then issuing a leadoff walk in the second, but escaped both times. Faced with the former situation, Lewis struck out Pat Burrell, whose night at the plate would only worsen. Lewis confused the power hitter with a fastball, slider and curveball as part of the four-pitch sequence. By mixing in the entirety of his repertoire, Lewis continued to befuddle San Francisco, and his ability to silence their bats was only helped by support from a rookie.

Through the years Texas has tried to replace Mark Teixeira at first base. They gave Chris Davis a shot, but he didn’t pan out. Then they handed the reigns to Justin Smoak only to trade his struggling yet promising bat to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee.

When Lee came aboard, Mitch Moreland was given the bulk of the playing time at first. He started slow, adjusting to major-league pitching. But as summer turned to fall he began to figure it out. There’s a reason why he has held down the position throughout the season. Still, what he did against Jonathan Sanchez in the second inning came out of nowhere.

Two runners were on with two out. The second of the two, Bengie Molina, walked in front of the 25-year-old slugger, extending the inning. Sanchez, who has proved to be wild this postseason, fell behind the Mississippi State graduate 2-0 before finding himself in the midst of a tremendous battle. He threw everything he had to Moreland: sliders, changeups and fastballs.

After a fourth-pitch fastball was called strike two, Moreland fouled off two sliders and two changeups. Then Sanchez tried to blow a fastball by him. This turned out to be a bad choice in pitch selection. The heater was thrown right down the pipe and hit smack dab on the sweet spot. A split-second later it was cascading into the seats in right. The ninth pitch of the battle went for a three-run homer, a blast now forever ingrained into Moreland’s memory.

Given this boost, Lewis did the rest. Twelve of the next 14 hitters he faced walked back to the dugout disappointed. The two who reached didn’t go anywhere. He was composed, just doing his job.

Teammate and slugger Josh Hamilton applauded his outing with some added insurance in the fifth, though he had a good idea Lewis wouldn’t need it. With two out he was served up the definition of a hanging curveball by Sanchez and deposited the mistake into the seats in right-center. Lewis had four runs with which to work now. He would only need the three supplied by Moreland.

After Pat Burrell struck out for his third of four times to begin the seventh, Cody Ross tagged a fastball into the left-field stands. He’s been doing that all postseason, as this was his fifth homer of the playoffs. He was bound to make an impact in this third game, considering he’s made one in seemingly every other. Lewis shrugged that off, retiring the next two in the seventh. After allowing a solo-shot in the eighth to Andres Torres and struggling thereafter, he left to an ovation. The 4-2 lead was now Neftali Feliz’s to save.

Feliz hadn’t pitched in seven days but showed no signs of rust. After the final out of the eighth was recorded by Darren O’Day, Burrell notched a Golden Sombrero to begin the ninth against the Dominican, becoming the sixth position player in World Series history to strikeout in all four plate appearances. Ross flew out, and then Juan Uribe ultimately failed to catch up to Feliz’s heater, as his upper-cut proved disadvantageous in striking out to end Game 3.

Lewis and Feliz had entirely different game-plans, with pitches clocking in at entirely different speeds. But they were similarly successful. That’s what makes this Year of the Pitcher so fantastic to watch. There have proved to be many ways to dominate, and both the journeyman and rookie did in their own way to help bring Texas back into contention in this entertaining World Series.



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