Lewis solid in return, but Rangers' offense stalls
Allows four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings in first start since '12
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis made a remarkable return on Monday after a 21-month absence from the Major Leagues.
The Rangers wouldn't mind seeing their offense re-appear as well. The bats haven't been gone that long, but they have been relatively mute on this homestand, and that continued against Mariners rookie left-hander Roenis Elias.
Making his third Major League start, Elias held the Rangers to one run over 6 2/3 innings in the Mariners' 7-1 victory. Lewis, who had a shutout going into the fifth inning, took the loss in his first start since July 18, 2012.
Since then, Lewis has undergone major surgery on both his right elbow and right hip. But on Monday night, he looked like the same pitcher who had been an integral member of the Rangers rotation when they went to the World Series in 2010 and '11.
"I thought he was outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't walk anybody and he pounded the strike zone. The runs they got, they earned. He had a good breaking ball and spotted his fastball well. Welcome back, Colby."
The formula and style hasn't changed much. Lewis' fastball was clocked around 88-89 miles per hour with excellent command and he mixed in his curve, slider and changeup. He has always been a four-pitch pitcher who relied on command over power, and that is still the case with a repaired hip and elbow.
"I felt great," Lewis said. "I warmed up great and everything was great. I was able to command the baseball. I got ambushed a couple of times in the sixth inning, but overall I threw the ball well. My stuff was sharp and I was able to throw my pitches when I needed to, ahead in the count and behind in the count. That's all you can ask for.
"I wasn't nervous, I was more anxious than anything. But after the first inning, I settled down and got into my rhythm. I had a lot of fun."
Lewis started his night by retiring the side in order in the first and was scoreless through four innings. That ended when Mike Zunino, the Mariners' No. 9 hitter, broke the scoreless tie with a one-out home run in the fifth. Lewis retired the next two hitters, but couldn't get through the sixth.
Robinson Cano led off with a single and, after Corey Hart flied out, Michael Saunders smacked a line drive into the left-center-field gap. Center fielder Leonys Martin couldn't cut the ball off as Cano scored and Saunders ended up with a triple. Saunders scored on a single by Kyle Seager to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead and end Lewis' night. He walked off the field to a standing ovation.
"I really appreciated that," Lewis said. "I wanted to go out there and have a good time. It was a stepping stone. I wanted a different outcome, I expect to go deeper in the game. But five days from now I'll go back out there and get after it again."
Pedro Figueroa took over and couldn't stop the Mariners rally. They ended up scoring four more with the help of a replay reversal on a play at home plate and took a 7-0 lead. Washington was ejected during the inning while arguing after the replay reversal had gone in favor of the Mariners on a play at home. But the replay hardly changed the outcome of the game, given the state of the Rangers offense.
Elias had a three-hit shutout going into the seventh before the Rangers finally scored. Prince Fielder hit a high pop down the left-field line that fell in for a double and he scored as Kevin Kouzmanoff bounced a single down the first-base line.
But that was it for the Rangers, who were held to one run for the third time in four games on this homestand.
"The name of the game is scoring runs, we just haven't been able to do that," Washington said. "We'll keep working and we'll keep grinding and hopefully we'll be able to do that."
The Rangers defeated the Red Sox, 10-7, last Tuesday in Fenway. In five games since then they are hitting .207 with 10 runs scored over five games. They are 4-for-46 with runners in scoring position and have not scored multiple runs in an inning since scoring four in the fourth inning last Tuesday. That's a span of 54 innings.
"No we're not frustrated," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It's too early and I don't like that word. We have to keep our heads up and keep playing hard. We know we'll get to the point where we'll start hitting again."
The Rangers just hope it won't take as long as it took Lewis to get back to the Major Leagues.