Tag: Colby Lewis

Colby Lewis Injury: Updates on Rangers Pitcher’s Lat and Return

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis will miss up to two months after suffering a strained lat muscle, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

Continue for updates.

Lewis Won’t Begin Throwing for at Least 4 Weeks

Wednesday, June 22

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 36-year-old will start his throwing program only after undergoing an MRI in roughly a month.

Lewis’ injury came Tuesday night during his start against the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched five innings and allowed six earned runs in an 8-2 defeat for Texas:

Losing the veteran right-hander for an extended period of time is a major blow for the Rangers. According to FanGraphs, Lewis’ 1.3 WAR is highest among Texas’ qualified starting pitchers, and his 4.24 FIP is lowest in the rotation.

The Rangers own the highest playoff chances (90.9 percent) of any team in the American League West, per Baseball Prospectus. That figure is bound to drop in the coming weeks. USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale noted how depleted Texas’ staff is quickly becoming:

A.J. Griffin looks close to stepping back on the mound for the first time since May 7. Wilson reported he’s in line to start Friday against the Boston Red Sox. Having Griffin back will help alleviate Texas’ injury problems, but manager Jeff Banister will still need to find replacements for both Lewis and Derek Holland.

Banister may have little choice but to call up Kyle Lohse. The 37-year-old had a 5.85 ERA in 37 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015, and in seven minor league starts, he’s 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA. Relying on Lohse to fill a major league rotation spot is a last resort, but Banister is running out of options.

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Colby Lewis’ Bid for History Highlights Unsung Hero of Rangers’ AL-Best Rotation

The most productive starting pitcher in the American League‘s best rotation came close to making history Thursday. As a general concept, that sounds like something that would happen.

But, Colby Lewis? Texas Rangers? That’s unexpected and therefore a cool story.

With a 3.00 ERA through 13 starts, Lewis was already having a good season when he took the hill to face the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum. He made it better by taking a perfect game into the eighth inning and a no-hitter into the ninth inning.

Alas, a four-pitch walk to Yonder Alonso snapped Lewis’ perfect-game bid. And leading off the ninth, Max Muncy nixed the no-no with a double that Nomar Mazara missed by thaaaaaaat much:

“I thought he was going to get to it a lot easier,” Lewis said afterward, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “It is what it is. You can’t throw your arms up in the air and get all mad about it. You have to go back to work.”

He did just that. Lewis also lost his shutout after losing his no-hitter—allowing an RBI double to Coco Crisp that was also nearly caught—but finished things off to seal a 5-1 win.

With his first complete game of 2016, the 36-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.81. That’s the best in a Rangers rotation that now leads the American League in ERA at 3.52. Coming on the heels of a 2015 season in which the Rangers’ rotation had one of the five worst ERAs in the AL, that’s surprising enough. And indeed, nobody’s ever said it’s easy to pitch at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

But more so than what the Rangers rotation as a whole is doing, it’s what Lewis is doing that boggles the mind.

It would be easy to explain it if Cole Hamels (whose 3.14 ERA is none too shabby, granted) was Texas’ best starter. He throws strikes with a low-90s fastball, and he can still make hitters look foolish with a changeup that ranks among the best ever. Like a lot of guys these days, he’s a strikeout pitcher.

It would also be easy to explain it if Yu Darvish were Texas’ best starter. His health has only allowed him to make three starts this season, but he proved in those he still has great velocity and a slider that may be as nasty as Hamels’ changeup. He’s also a strikeout pitcher.

Heck, it would even be easy to explain it if Martin Perez were Texas’ best starter. He can’t contend with Hamels or Darvish in terms of raw stuff, but his sinker gets approximately all of the ground balls.

Lewis, on the other hand, excels at neither missing bats nor at managing contact. As you’d expect from a guy with his age and his injury track record—he’s had shoulder, elbow and hip surgerieshis fastball hovers in the high 80s. Also, it’s doubtful his slider, curveball or changeup will ever be among the GIFs featured at PitcherList.com

This makes Lewis a hard guy to sum up on paper. He’s one of those guys you just have to, you know, watch.

That’s the only way to understand it’s not about what Lewis throws but rather how he throws what he throws. He’ll work both sides of the strike zone with a four-seam fastball and a sinker. He’ll also pitch backward, using his secondaries to get ahead before going to the heat. In general, the eye test says he’s good at sequencing his pitches.

This is the long way of saying the obvious: Lewis just plain knows how to pitch. Most days, that makes him a solid innings-eater. On a good day, it apparently make him damn near unhittable.

To echo the thoughts of CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry, however, the sustainability of Lewis’ current performance is a question mark. Maybe even a big question mark.

There are metrics that suggest Lewis is lucky to have his 2.81 ERA. The most basic is fielding independent pitching, which has Lewis rated as one of the luckiest pitchers in the American League.

That Lewis is walking only 1.7 batters per nine innings means he has one valuable skill, to be sure. But he’s only striking out 5.6 batters per nine innings despite all those strikes. Because of that, he needs good fortune on balls in play.

The best way to earn that is to induce soft contact. Lewis isn’t doing that. He entered Thursday with a 37.9 hard-hit rate, way above his career average of 31.7. According to Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity was 89.0 miles per hour. That’s basically the league average.

The number it all points to is .234. That’s Lewis’ batting average on balls in play. That’s far below his career norm of .297 and therefore likely due for a major regression.

That’s one reason nobody should be shocked if Lewis comes back to earth. Besides that, well, this is also the same guy who put up a 4.90 ERA across 2014 and 2015.

But the damage Lewis has already done should still make a difference in the end. He’s played an important role in establishing the Rangers’ six-and-a-half-game lead in the AL West, not to mention their three-game lead over everyone else for the top record in the American League. Even if they never get better, the Rangers should find themselves playing in October.

And even if Lewis is no longer their best pitcher by then, the Rangers will still be glad to have him.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Colby Lewis Loses No-Hitter in 9th Inning vs. Athletics: Highlights and Reaction

Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis is in the midst of a resurgent campaign at age 36, and it got even better Thursday. He narrowly missed a no-hitter and a perfect game during the Rangers’ 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Lewis lost his perfect game when he walked Yonder Alonso in the eighth, his no-hitter when he allowed a double to Max Muncy to start the bottom of the ninth and his shutout when Coco Crisp drove Muncy home on a double.

Although he just missed history, Lewis still pitched a complete game and allowed a single run on two hits. He also struck out four batters and gave up only one walk. ESPN Stats & Info noted it was the first time someone broke up a no-hit bid in the final inning since last season:

Lewis didn’t just post impressive results. He sported good velocity deep into the contest as he stymied the Oakland hitters, as Daren Willman of MLB.com pointed out:

Lewis’ efficiency was almost as impressive as his stat line. Robert Brender of SiriusXM noted the Texas hurler threw only 75 pitches in those first seven innings, and Richard Justice of MLB.com tweeted Lewis was aggressive inside the strike zone:

The Texas offense helped set the tone in the late innings with two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth. Ian Desmond drilled a home run in the seventh, while Adrian Beltre finished with three hits and drove in two runs with a double in the eighth. 

Left fielder Ryan Rua also gave Lewis some help in the eighth with a leaping catch right in front of the wall, but Lewis walked Alonso on four pitches to end the perfect game. 

The no-hitter didn’t last much longer, as Muncy led off the bottom of the ninth with that double:

Lewis was already putting up career numbers through his first 13 starts of the year coming into Thursday, as MLB.com illustrated:

Lewis discussed his efforts after the win:

The Rangers rotation needed a boost after the team recently put Yu Darvish on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort, and Lewis provided that Thursday.

Even with the question marks surrounding Darvish’s health after he missed the 2015 season following Tommy John surgery, the Rangers are in first place in the American League West by 6.5 games. If Lewis continues to pitch at an effective level, Texas will have a formidable rotation that also features Cole Hamels and Martin Perez as it strives to reach the postseason for the second straight year. 

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Colby Lewis Re-Signs with Rangers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Texas Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake announced Monday the club re-signed starting pitcher Colby Lewis on a one-year contract.  

The 36-year-old veteran went 17-9 in 2015, but he had a 4.66 ERA. Blake specified Lewis’ deal will mark his seventh season with the team.

Bill Jones of CBS 11 weighed in on the overall value of the new contract:

Although his recent bottom-line results were impressive, Lewis obviously benefited from a lot of run support when he took the mound en route to a career-best wins total. It was impressive he even played, though, considering he gutted through much of the second half of the season on a torn left meniscus.

The Rangers have had a high-powered offense that hasn’t been complemented by pitching well enough for a number of years. This held true last season as Texas was third in baseball in runs scored but 23rd in team ERA.

One big reason the Rangers were able to run to the American League West division title was because they did address pitching at the MLB trade deadline. Texas acquired Cole Hamels, who went 7-1 in 12 starts, helping the club edge out the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels in the standings.

Lewis doesn’t have an elite skill set when it comes to his pitching arsenal. To be fair, a long list of injuries is largely to blame for that. He is a fly-ball pitcher who yielded 26 home runs in 2015 and relies heavily on a four-seam fastball that seldom reaches 90 mph.

Thanks to a biting slider and movement on pitches that don’t vary much in velocity, per BrooksBaseball.net, Lewis is able to deceive hitters enough, as he led the Rangers with 142 strikeouts. 

One has to respect Lewis for continuing to plug away when most players with his history of ailments would have probably walked away from the game. The Rangers are rewarding him for the long road he’s traveled to buck the odds and continue his baseball career.

The longtime MLB hurler isn’t getting any younger, though, and he is a short-term fix. If the Rangers don’t upgrade their rotation more, they cannot legitimately expect to win their maiden World Series title.

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Colby Lewis Re-Signs with Rangers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Texas Rangers and veteran starting pitcher Colby Lewis reportedly reached an agreement on a one-year, $6 million deal late Thursday.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the re-signing is dependent on Lewis passing a physical after dealing with a knee injury, which might not happen until after the holidays. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed the terms of the deal are in place.

The Rangers originally selected Lewis in the 1999 MLB draft. He struggled across three years with the big club after making his way through the system, though. He also failed to lock down a spot during brief stints with the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics.

That led to a journey to Japan, where he would spend two years with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp before returning stateside and rejoining the Rangers.

He’s been more effective since his return in 2010. He posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 196 strikeouts in 201 innings in that first year back in MLB. He’s been unable to match that success in the years that followed, but he’s still provided a reliable veteran presence in the middle of the rotation.

Lewis stated in early December that he hoped it would work out so he could stay with Texas, as noted by Wilson.

“There are quite a few other teams that have called and have gotten all the medicals. We’ll see. This is my first choice,” Lewis said. “This is where I want to be. If I don’t fit in, then I don’t fit it. That’s just how baseball operates these days.”

Or Moyal of WFAA expanded on what he brings to the team:

The 36-year-old right-hander certainly isn’t an ace, a role he’s been forced to fill with the Rangers at times in recent years. That said, he should slot in nicely behind the likes of Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland in 2016.

His ability to provide the veteran influence described Moyal simply adds to his overall value. It’s a wise one-year investment for a Rangers club that will be looking to repeat as AL West champs.   


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Texas Rangers Injury Report: Updates Heading into Spring Training

The Texas Rangers are just a few weeks away from opening up spring training in Surprise, Ariz.

Luckily for the club, most of its roster is filled with healthy players getting ready for the day-to-day grind. However, there are a few players who will not be joining the Rangers. There are some who will have a tougher time getting back into the groove because of injuries.

Derek Holland will obviously be one of those guys who won’t be in Surprise. He is recovering from knee surgery and won’t be available until around the All-Star break.

Here are injury updates on a couple of other players looking to make a comeback in 2014.


Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison made just two starts last season before it was cut short due to two back surgeries on a herniated disk.

The 28-year-old has been throwing for quite some time now. He is expected to be ready to go by the time spring training rolls around. The Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley reported that he successfully completed a bullpen session on Jan. 21, throwing 35 pitches.

He will also look like a different guy when Texas fans see him in Surprise. Fraley says Harrison has dropped about 30 pounds during his rehab program.

Spring training should be very beneficial to Harrison’s comeback this season considering where he is now.


Colby Lewis

The club’s most successful playoff pitcher in history hasn’t pitched in a big league game since July 18, 2012.

Colby Lewis was signed to a minor league deal back on Nov. 23, which included an invite to spring training. He will be coming back from multiple surgeries on his elbow and hip.

With Holland out for the first few months, Lewis could be in line for a rotation spot. He has gone 32-29 since 2010 and is 4-1 in the postseason.

In an interview on KRLD-FM, Lewis said that his hip is great and it is the best he has felt in four or five years.

That is what Rangers fans are hoping for.

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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Decisions: Home/Road Splits: Jimenez, Pelfrey and Lewis

Is there anything to pitchers who look significantly better at home as opposed to on the road (or vice versa)?  Should we be playing those matchups more closely? 

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the more notable splits and determining if we should be sitting a pitcher in certain situations:

Ubaldo Jimenez – Colorado Rockies
Home ERA – 6.86 (42.0 innings)
Road ERA – 2.14 (42.0 innings)

His dominance away from Coors Field continued last night, as he tossed a gem against the New York Yankees (not that the environment was any better than his home ballpark), allowing two ER on four H and four BB, striking out seven, over 7.0 innings. 

The biggest difference in his performance?  At home, he has allowed seven HR, on the road zero.

The question is if this is a new trend or something that has plagued Jimenez in the past. 

Last season he posted a 3.19 ERA at home, in 2009 he was at 3.34.  In other words, his struggles at home have not been seen before, even after he regressed in 2010.  From July forward he made nine starts at home, only twice allowing more than three ER.

It really doesn’t appear that there is too much to worry about at this point.  Jimenez is too good of an option to put on your bench anyways and you have to think that he is going to correct the problem before long. 

Stay patient and you should benefit.  His next start comes at home against the Chicago White Sox.  Despite his issues, I’d keep him active and take the “risk.”

Mike Pelfrey – New York Mets
Home ERA – 2.96 (48.2 innings)
Road ERA – 6.65 (47.1 innings)

Does it surprise anyone that Pelfrey has excelled at the spacious Citi Field, while getting his clocked cleaned on the road?  The trend continued yesterday, allowing four ER against the Rangers in Texas.

It’s very similar to last year’s split, when he went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA at home and 5-6 with a 4.95 ERA on the road.  It’s not that he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, though he has seen a significant jump in his fly ball rate this season. 

Last season he was at 32.0 percent and for his career he’s at 31.6 percent.  This season?  He’s at 41.0 percent, which is an entirely different issue. 

Maybe he’s trying to adjust his style to pitch to his ballpark, but that certainly doesn’t help him when he’s on the road.  He’s allowed 14 HR on the season, only four have come at home.

Pelfrey is more of a pitch and ditch option at this point, but using him when he is on the road, no matter what the matchup, would not be a wise decision. 

He has only allowed less than three ER in two road starts this season.  If he’s pitching at home, he could be worth the flier; otherwise, leave him sitting on the waiver wire.


Colby Lewis – Texas Rangers
Home ERA – 6.13 (39.2 innings)
Road ERA – 3.19 (53.2 innings)

It’s interesting to look at Lewis’ splits, because he’s been burned by the long ball all season long, whether at home or on the road.  While the rate certainly is worse in Arlington (11 HR), it’s not like the eight he has allowed on the road is a stellar number. 

He’s just allowing too many fly balls (51.9 percent), a number that isn’t even close to last year’s solid 44.9 percent.  If he can get that under control, the numbers will improve no matter where he is pitching.

Last season, he got the job done at home, with a 3.41 ERA (vs. a 3.95 on the road).  Another issue in 2011 is worse luck at home, with a 67.3 percent strand rate.  Plus, for some reason he simply isn’t registering strikeouts (5.45 K/9 vs. an 8.89 K/9 on the road). 

Is there any real reason that he’s not striking people out at home?

He’s been pitching better lately, allowing two ER over 13.2 IP in his past two starts, including one at home.  That certainly is a good sign and, if he’s healthy (he is battling a neck issue), he should certainly be active for his next outing, which comes on the road against the Astros. 

It’s worth monitoring, but I would certainly expect him to improve on his numbers at home before long making him usable regardless of where he is pitching.

What are your thoughts of these three pitchers?  Would you play the home/road split with any of them?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:


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Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Decisions: Colby Lewis Over David Price

There are times that fantasy writers will make a bold statement or reach for a player in a mock draft in order to simply make a point.  As unrealistic as it may seem, they want to hammer it home how strongly they feel about a particular player.

That’s not something that I do and this isn’t one of those times. 

If I had a choice between David Price and Colby Lewis, I would make the same selection every single time, whether it be a mock draft or a real draft.

I would rather own Colby Lewis

Before you get all excited and rip me for what most will think is a rather bold statement, let’s take a look at the two players and show you where my thought process comes from:

(Side Note: Basically what this actually comes down to is that I won’t be drafting Price based on his current ADP.  According to Mock Draft Central Price has an ADP of 49.34 vs. Lewis’ 172.19.  In reality I don’t have to select Lewis before Price, and I wouldn’t.  I simply would let Price go off the board and get Lewis several rounds later.)


David Price

He’s the more highly touted of the two, which I think helps to skew people’s belief that he is clearly the better option of the two. The former first overall pick certainly made strides in 2010, posting the following line:

19 Wins
208.2 Innings
2.72 ERA
1.19 WHIP
188 Strikeouts (8.11 K/9)
79 Walks (3.41 BB/9)
.279 BABIP

He had tremendous value a year ago, but one of the numbers we can easily throw out and that’s the wins. 

First of all, we all know that it is a category that we can’t depend on from year-to-year. They are impossible to predict and, even if Price could replicate his overall success, it’s highly unlikely that he can maintain that type of win level in 2011.

At this point, you have to think that the Rays bullpen will be extremely less effective than it was in 2010. It was significantly depleted due to free agency with names like Rafael Soriano (though there is an off chance he returns), Joaquin Benoit, Randy Chote, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour (he’s still a free agent) and Chad Qualls (he’s still a free agent) all likely gone. 

Even if Price leaves with a lead, is there a guarantee that the new bullpen can hold it? In 2010, he had 15 starts of less than seven innings, nearly half of his outings. That’s a significant number of outs to ask for your bullpen to get and seeing a few leads slip away would not be surprising.

You also have to take into account that the Rays just likely won’t be as good overall. Their offense was hit hard with the departures of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, so they may not be able to score enough runs to keep up with the Yankees, Red Sox or Blue Jays.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only number that may see a regression. He posted a BABIP of .279 and a strand rate of 78.5%, both marks that could regress in 2011.

Assuming the control stays the same (and it’s certainly not an elite number), that’s going to inflate the WHIP and ERA.

Not to mention, Price dominated the Red Sox (2-1, 2.61 ERA in two starts), Orioles (2-0, 0.61 ERA in two starts) and Blue Jays (4-0, 0.58 ERA in four starts) in 2010. Can we really anticipate those types of numbers within the division once again? Those are teams that we all know can score runs, so seeing them beat up on Price a little bit in ’11 would not be surprising.

Price should absolutely be a good pitcher again in 2011, just not quite up to the level he pitched to in 2010. 

He is a Top 25 pitcher, for sure, but what’s to say that Lewis isn’t as well?


Colby Lewis

There isn’t much history to go on with Lewis, having spent the past few seasons over in Japan. However, in his first year back since 2007, Lewis was very impressive:

12 Wins
201.0 Innings
3.72 ERA
1.19 WHIP
196 Strikeouts (8.78 K/9)
65 Walks (2.91 BB/9)
.292 BABIP

 A lot of people want to point to a second half regression as reason to be skeptical:

  • First Half – 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.58 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, .267 BABIP in 110.2 IP
  • Second Half – 4.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 9.09 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, .324 BABIP in 90.1 IP

There are a couple of potential explanations for the falloff.

You could take the stance that the league was able to figure him out, meaning he will be unable to come close to his first half success again; you also could believe that maybe he tired in the second half, due to the innings load and the difference in work in the U.S. compared to Japan.

Honestly, neither may be accurate. Keep in mind that he actually improved both his strikeout and walk rates in the second half. Luck certainly had something to do with his regression (you also could say that he was lucky in the first half). 

Either way, his overall luck metrics were believable making his overall line believable. The old adage is baseball is a game of averages and Lewis’ season is a prime example. He was lucky in the first half and unlucky in the second, but overall things looked reasonable.

He showed better control then Price in ’10, which easily could lead to a better WHIP. 

He showed a better strikeout rate then Price. Maybe this is an aberration but, at worst, you would have to think that the two enter 2011 on an even playing field.

He pitches in a division that has the A’s, Angels and Mariners, far from the high-powered offenses that call the AL East home. He likely has a better team behind him, meaning that he could have more wins upside even on days that he pitches poorly.

There really is an awful lot to like. 



The two pitchers are a lot closer than many people want to believe. As I said, I lean towards Lewis due to his:

  • Strikeout potential (he showed in the second half he could strikeout over a batter per inning)
  • Potential better control (which could lead to a better WHIP)
  • Easier division
  • Potentially better team

When push comes to shove, I’m going Lewis every time. There’s just too much potential for him to build on his 2010 campaign, while Price easily could go in the other direction.

That’s not to say that I can’t understand why people prefer Price. He has an extremely high upside and, at 25 years old, certainly has the room to significantly improve.

I actually have them back-to-back on my updated pitcher rankings (to be released this week), so there is definitely room for debate.

Lewis is far from old at 31-years old, however and just looks to have a higher upside for 2011. In keeper leagues, things are obviously different, but for just one season, I don’t see it as outlandish to think Lewis will have the better season.

What about you? Which of these two pitchers would you pick? Why?


Make sure to pre-order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:

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MLB League Rivalry: Improved Pitching Marks End for AL Superiority Over NL?

Two perfect games. One near perfect game (How near is near? Blown call on the 27th out “near”).  Three regular season no-hitters. One no-hitter in the playoffs, first since 1956. The 2010 Major League Baseball season has been headlined as “The Return of the Pitcher.” 

Along with 2010 being the year of the pitcher, this year in baseball saw the return of the National League.

In the 80th mid-summer classic in Anaheim, California, the National League came out victorious for the first time since 1996.  National and American league pitchers combined to scatter 13 hits while only giving up a combined four runs. Lineups that consisted of former MVP’s, former batting champions, former Rookie of the Year award winners, future MVP players were limited to only four runs combined.

The 2010 MLB Playoffs were headlined by dominant pitching. Roy Halladay opened up the MLB playoffs by no-hitting the Cincinnati Reds in his first playoff start. Tim Lincecum opened up the NLDS series between the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves with a complete game shutout. Cliff Lee gave up two runs in three starts in the ALDS and the ALCS and only walked one batter in 24 innings pitched. Colby Lewis who has pitched to a career 5.27 ERA, who found himself pitching for Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Central League for two seasons, became the seventh pitcher to defeat the New York Yankees twice in a playoff series, pitched to a 1.27 ERA and helped the Texas Rangers reach the World Series for the first time. Matt Cain earned a 0.00 ERA throughout the 2010 postseason in route to winning his first World Series championship.

As soon as the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers punched their tickets to the Fall Classic, many were quick to write off the Giants and were ready to hand the commissioner’s trophy over to Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers. I was part of that group, and as soon as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in Game 1, I said the Rangers were going to be celebrating last Sunday night as World Series Champions.

I mean, come on; how could you not assume an outcome like that? Texas as a team hit .304, slugged .512 and had an OPS of .890 against the Yankees in the ALCS.

The Giants, on the other hand, beat the heavily favored Phillies. That was no small feat as they took care of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

Still, the Rangers were the favorite in the World Series. The Giants pitching staff held the Rangers unforgiving lineup to a .190 average, .288 slugging, and an OPS of .546. Scan a few lines up and look at the comparisons of the two series for the Rangers. Do we still use the excuse that the team is rusty after not playing for four days?

The mid-summer classic and the playoffs are the two biggest stages for Major League Baseball. The two showcased tremendous pitching and in each of them the National League came out winners.  To me, the resurgence of pitching will in fact take some “fire power” away from the AL as the notorious power hitting league.

The Giants once again proved that good pitching will always beat good hitting. The AL has developed some good young pitching, but if it continues to rely on strong lineups and power hitting stars, the National League will continue to thrive in each of the two “big stages” in the baseball season.


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Colby Lewis, Mitch Moreland Key to Texas Rangers 4-2 Win in World Series Game 3

Riding the pitching arm of Colby Lewis and a three-run homer from the bat of their No. 9 hitter, the Texas Rangers defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2 to cut their series deficit from two games to one.

To many, starting pitcher Lewis and rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland (their nine-hole hitter) may not sound like World Series heroes, but tonight their stars shined the brightest before a jubilant crowd at Ranger Ballpark in Arlington.

Their heroics guided the American League champions to the franchise’s first-ever World Series victory as they served notice to the Cinderella Giants (and the baseball world) that this, indeed, may be a long series.

The Rangers were already in uncharted territory, playing in their very first Fall Classic, and hosting their first game of such magnitude.  Adding to the drama were these little stats that may have been quite sobering to a team looking to fight back after dropping the first two games of a series.

The last 11 teams to take a 2-0 lead with home field advantage went on to win the World Series.

In the history of the Fall Classic, teams have taken a 2-0 lead 51 times; 40 of them have become World Series champions.

The last three teams to grab a 2-0 lead not only went on to win, but also went on to sweep the series.

Against these Texas-tall odds, the Rangers sent Colby Lewis to the hill to effectively keep them alive.  Lewis, who entered the game with a 2-0 postseason record and a sparkling 1.45 era, was equal to the task, even if he didn’t start the game with full command.

After retiring leadoff batter Andres Torres on a bouncer to second, Lewis gave up a two-strike hit to the sizzling Freddie Sanchez.  Aubrey Huff flew out to deep right, before Lewis walked Buster Posey.  Lewis got left fielder Pat Burrell to strike out (kind of a mean feat as Burrell was 0-for-4 with four whiffs) on a slider that appeared to be a foot aside.  Still, a huge out for a team that could not afford to give the Giants even more momentum..

The Rangers almost got to Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the first frame. Vladimir Guerrero, back in his familiar designated hitter role, put a mighty swing on an inside pitch with two outs and a man (Michael Young, with a single) on first.  Vlad may have gotten it off the end of the bat, but Burrell, temporarily redeeming himself, made a fine running catch to keep the game scoreless.

For the next five innings, Lewis was in almost complete control, yielding a total of two more hits and one walk, The one free pass was issued to  Cody “Babe”  Ross to start the second, but the threat was wiped out by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play of Pablo Sandoval, started by the nifty glove work of second sacker Ian Kinsler.

While the Rangers may not have made too many “web gems”, they were solid all night, committing no errors or misplays after playing two shoddy games in San Francisco. 

On the other side of the hill, Sanchez, who at times  can be brilliant, faced  Nelson Cruz to start the second.  The muscular left fielder hit a rocket, best described as a “Cruz Missile” that attacked the center field wall, but did not clear it for a leadoff double.

Sanchez got Kinsler to ground out to short, and Cruz alertly ran on contact to take third, with shortstop Edgar Renteria electing to take the sure out at first.  With the infield playing back, Jeff Francouer hit a one-hopper even with the bag, but the normally aggressive Cruz retreated to third, even though the Giants appeared to concede the run on a contact play.

With two outs and Cruz stalled out at third, it would now take a hit (barring a wild pitch, of which the often wild Sanchez has proved capable of dealing) to get on the board. After Bengie Molina walked, in stepped rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland, hitting out of the nine hole.

In the key at-bat of the contest, Sanchez fell behind Moreland 2-1 before getting the benefit of a borderline strike to even the count.  The first baseman would foul off four straight pitches before seeing a pitch—the ninth of the climactic showdown—that he liked.  Well, Moreland did not miss it, sending it deep into the rightfield seats to give Texas a 3-0 lead that (thanks mostly to Lewis) it would never relinquish.

Josh Hamilton, who had not yet had his big moment in the Fall Classic, would add to the 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.  Again, the Rangers and their prodigiously talented center fielder would strike with two outs.  Andrus had started the frame with a leadoff single, which Michael Young followed with a hard one-hopper to third baseman Juan Uribe. 

Uribe’s throw was high, but Freddie Sanchez turned a sensational pivot, just nipping Young to complete the twin killing.  Hamilton would drive a Sanchez fastball well into the bleachers to make the score 4-0 Texas.  As well as Lewis was pitching, the blow was a key one in giving the home team some insurance against a team that never gets discouraged.

A Babe Ross homer in the seventh—almost a formality in the craziness of the 2010 postseason—would put the Giants on the board, but Lewis and the Rangers minimized damage all night by retiring the leadoff man eight out of nine times; in this case, Burrell had started the inning by whiffing again.

Things got a little more scary for Lewis after he gave up another one-out solo shot in the eighth, this time a blast by centerfielder Andres Torres.  Had Lewis, who prior to this season had done his most effective pitching in Japan, run out of gas?

Manager Ron Washington elected to leave him on the game, and Sanchez hit a rocket to left that looked like extra bases off his bat. Cruz, making one of the best plays of the night, robbed him with a  terrific over-the-shoulder catch. Lewis stayed on to face dangerous lefty Aubrey Huff, and hit him on the top of his front foot with an off-speed pitch. 

Preternaturally mature rookie catcher Buster Posey stepped to the plate, and Washington elected to turn to setup man Darren O’Day. The resulting showdown would define the game, and indeed, be what postseason baseball is all about.

Top of the second: Rangers 4, Giants 2.  Two outs, a man on first, and the momentum trending to the visitors.  A less-than-hot reliever versus a great young hitter who had already reached base safely twice on the night.

The mano-a-mano would be epic.  After getting up 0-2 on Posey, the side-arming reliever would miss on three straight offspeed pitches  that were wide of the outside corner.  O’Day would step off the mound three times, continually shake off Molina, and even have a summit conference with his battery mate during the at-bat. It was the kind of high drama that baseball fans love, and non-believers can’t stand.

The Rangers ended up loving it, as Posey reached for a 3-2 pitch and tapped it weakly to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who gunned him out at first.

With a well-rested rookie closer Neftali Feliz throwing pure gas in the ninth, the Rangers left their raucous ballpark with a 4-2 victory and the sense that they were truly in this series. 

The Rangers will turn to young Tommy Hunter against an even younger (and quite impressive) Madison Bumgarner to try to keep their momentum going in Game 4. 

But under the Saturday night lights deep in the heart of Texas, Lewis, Moreland their teammates made the debut of World Series baseball in the Longhorn State a quite memorable one.


Gold Notes

Nolan Ryan’s ceremonial first-pitch toss to honorary catcher Ivan Rodriguez was clocked at 68 MPH.  It was a little short of the plate and outside, but Pudge scooped it with ease, saving the legendary team president a wild pitch.

Babe Ross and Josh Hamilton both hit heir fifth home runs of the postseason; it was Moreland’s first.

I realize that FOX pays a ton for the rights to televise the World Series, but they have to give us a better “God Bless America” singer than Martha Plimpton, the star of a FOX series, Raising Hope.  She was horrible; I hope she’s better in the series, which I’ve decided to boycott, anyway.  Sorry to give it some play here (Kelly Clarkson gave a pretty good version of the national anthem).

One has to think FOX and otherwise neutral baseball fans would like to see a Lincecum-Lee matchup with the teams tied at two apiece.  Maybe this one will actually be a pitcher’s duel.

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