If anyone knows the work Colby Lewis has put in to overcome elbow and hip surgeries, it’s Joakim Soria.
Soria and Lewis spent months together rehabbing and working toward getting back to the big leagues in Arizona last season. So Soria understood the significance of getting the final out in the Texas Rangers’ 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
It gave Lewis his first win in almost 22 months to the day and Soria immediately handed him the game-winning ball.
“The guy has been through a lot of stuff and he deserved to have the winning ball,” said Soria, who came back from a second Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last season.
“I’m really glad I could do it for him and I’m really happy for him.”
With the win, the Rangers are on a five-game winning streak and have won six of their past seven after a 5-6 start. Prince Fielder and Kevin Kouzmanoff each had solo homers to start innings, and the offense had its fourth double-digit hit night in the past five games.
But the story of the night was Lewis winning his first game since June 17, 2012.
Lewis didn’t remember his last win off the top of his head but, when informed it was against the Astros, Lewis said jokingly: “I probably got a hit then.”
Well, that win came at home, too.
Lewis opened with a 1-2-3 first inning and was given an early 1-0 lead in the bottom half on an RBI double by Alex Rios.
The White Sox responded in the second, though, with three consecutive singles to center to load the bases with one out. Lewis minimized damage by allowing only Jose Abreu to score on a double-play grounder by Alexei Ramirez.
Lewis went on to retire 12 of the next 14 batters before giving up a one-out double to Conor Gillaspie in the sixth. He then issued a walk to Abreu on five pitches, which ended his night.
Manager Ron Washington didn’t want Lewis to face Adam Dunn, who had singles in his first two at-bats. Left-hander Aaron Poreda came in for his Rangers debut and retired Dunn on a fly out before walking Dayan Viciedo to load the bases.
Jason Frasor entered and quickly ended the White Sox threat on his first pitch by inducing an inning-ending groundout by Ramirez.
That kept Lewis in line for his first win since undergoing season-ending right elbow surgery in July 2012 and then hip resurfacing surgery in August 2013.
“I feel like it’s pretty sentimental, one of those victories that I’m just excited about,” said Lewis, who received a standing ovation from the crowd similar to the one in his season debut Monday.
“I’m still kind of disappointed I didn’t go deeper in the ballgame, but [pitching coach Mike] Maddux and I talked about that we thought the 85 pitches were a lot better than the 88 I threw the other day. I feel like I was more relaxed, got the bugs and jitters out of the way.”
Fielder had a solo homer to start off the fourth to put the Rangers ahead 2-1 and they scored three more runs that inning. Josh Wilson had a two-out, two-run single and Shin-Soo Choo followed with an RBI double down the right-field line for a 5-1 lead.
That seemed to be a comfortable margin until the eighth inning when Alexi Ogando ran into trouble.
With one out and the bases loaded, Ogando gave up a two-run single to Viciedo as the White Sox pulled to within 5-3 and had the go-ahead run at the plate. But Ogando ended it with a double-play grounder by Ramirez.
The Rangers got one of the runs back in their half of the inning when Kouzmanoff led off with a solo homer, and Soria closed it out with a perfect ninth.
The Rangers now own the second-best record in the American League.
“We played all those games in spring training and never put anything together,” Washington said. “We played all those games in the beginning of the year and never really put anything together. It’s time to start getting consistent and that’s where we want to be.”