In what might be the final act of the Winter of 2015, the Texas Rangers have brought back Colby Lewis, perhaps the only seventeen-game winner in major league history to go unused in the playoffs.
With his team up two games to none, needing just one more win to advance, Jeff Banister, in a final head scratching move, chose to keep Colby Lewis out of the playoffs in order to have his arm fresh and ready for spring training games.
While Perez was less than impressive and Holland imploded, Colby Lewis was given the playoffs off in order to rest up for next year.
So Lewis hits Surprise now pitching on five months’ rest. He should be strong and ready to take on 2016 as the final piece of the Rangers’ rotation puzzle that includes Hamels, Perez, Holland, eventually Darvish, and now Lewis. With Martinez and Gonzalez waiting in the wings.
Welcome back, Colby Lewis. You are appreciated by Rangers fans everywhere, if not by your manger.
Below is an article I wrote after an August win over Tampa Bay, one of his more impressive games this year, and one of the more important Rangers wins down the stretch.
At a point in the season when they need to play their best baseball of the year, the Texas Rangers played their best game of the year.
It’s not just that they scored twelve runs—they have scored fifteen runs in a game twice—it was the way the Rangers, as a team, came together to win this one.
Total team effort.
But it all started with Colby Lewis, and two monumental full-count moments in the game in particular, where the lead was just two runs and the outcome of the game was very much in jeopardy. In both moments, he came out on top. Big.
Of all the gritty performances the Rangers have gotten from Lewis, it’s hard to recall one grittier than last night. John Wayne would have envied this true grit.
After Chris Gimenez hit a two-run blast in the bottom of the second to put the Rangers up 3-1, the last thing they wanted to do was give away the lead.
But Rene Rivera and John Jaso both singled with one out to put the tying runs on base in the top of the third.
Up came Grady Sizemore, the cat who has seemingly had far more than nine baseball lives. He took Lewis to battle, fouling off a few pitches and working the count to 3-2. Just one errant pitch from walking the bases loaded. Instead, Lewis got him to hit a line shot to Mitch Moreland for an unassisted double play, and a huge crisis averted.
That was the easy part.
In the sixth inning, still clinging to the 3-1 lead, with two outs and a runner on, Lewis went to work on Asdrubal Cabrera.
“Went to work” couldn’t be any more of an understatement if it were Labor Day.
He worked and worked and worked. And worked and worked and worked. And worked and worked and worked. And worked and worked and worked. And worked and worked and worked.
When it was all done, it was an epic fifteen-pitch at bat that Colby Lewis won. It started out looking easy. Lewis got head 0-2, before Cabrera fouled off ten pitches and took three out of the strike zone. On pitch fifteen, finally, Lewis got Cabrera to fly out to right to end the inning. And end his night in epic fashion.
When Colby walked off the mount, he didn’t just earn the win. He Earned it, with a big fat capital E.
It was contagious. You could actually feel the team feed off that energy from Lewis’s performance. Rays ace Chris Archer was about to be the hand that fed them.
Single, Josh Hamilton. Double, Elvis Andrus. Single, Chris Gimenez. Single, Delino DeShields. Single, Shin-Soo Choo. Reach on a fielders choice error, Prince Fielder. Home run, Adrian Beltre.
And just like that, the Rangers scored seven runs to take a 10-1 lead, and complete their most rewarding single inning of the season.
It all started with Colby Lewis. And unlikely ace with an ERA of 4.45 but a record of 13-5.
A brilliant team effort, a 12-4 win over Tampa Bay, with 14 hits, a three-hit game from Choo, three RBIs each from Choo, Beltre and Gimenez, and hits from every one in the staring lineup.
Oh, and the Rangers picked up a game on both Los Anaheim and Houston.
After two come-from-behind victories in a row, the Rangers played a nearly perfect game (bullpen hiccups aside) for its best win of the year.
This may have been their here-we-come-from-the-behind-the-pack victory.