Colby Lewis had a simple solution to get the Texas Rangers back on track.
“Colorado needs to leave town,” he said, wryly.
That might help.
The Rockies are among the hottest teams right now and are feasting on a struggling Rangers rotation and offense. They did it Monday and Tuesday in a two-game sweep at Coors Field and carried it into the first of a two-game series at Globe Life Park, winning 9-2 on Wednesday.
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The Rockies have won nine of their last 11, including the past three over the Rangers by a combined score of 29-5. The Rangers, meanwhile, have lost eight of their past 10 to fall to .500 (17-17). They have also lost five straight home games, the most since a seven-game losing streak in September 2013.
“We’re struggling a little bit, but we have run into a very hot team,” manager Ron Washington said. “Everything Colby threw up in the strike zone, they hit and hit hard. They’re swinging the bats well.”
Lewis endured his worst start since making a remarkable return to the big leagues last month. He had difficulty getting the third out in the opening three innings, allowing seven two-out hits, and imploded in the fourth inning.
The Rockies had an early 2-0 lead after a two-run, two-out RBI double by Nolan Arenado in the first inning, and then opened it up in the fourth.
Lewis gave up four consecutive singles to start the inning, two of which scored runs. He then gave up a pair of sacrifice flies to Corey Dickerson and Troy Tulowitzki as the Rockies took a 6-0 lead.
The sac flies at least led to outs, but Lewis couldn’t get out of the inning. His night ended in the next at-bat when Carlos Gonzalez sent a solo homer over the right-center field fence.
That was the 12th hit allowed by Lewis, matching his career-high, and he exited with his shortest start since Sept. 3, 2011, vs. Boston.
“I got beat, that’s all there is to it,” Lewis said. “It’s just one of those days. I can’t chalk it up to anything more than that.”
The entire pitching staff hasn’t been able to settle down the Rockies. They have 50 hits and 29 runs in the past three games.
As a whole, the rotation is in the midst of a rough stretch. With Lewis’ early exit, Rangers starters have now thrown a total of 41 2/3 innings over the past nine games, averaging roughly 4 2/3 innings per start.
“We just haven’t been able to make pitches,” Washington said. “That’s what it comes down to. Execute some pitches. I don’t know the last time we turned a double play. Get the ball down in the zone and make things happen. Do that, and everything else will fall into place.”
Washington praised the performance by new long man Scott Baker, who showed the Rockies’ lineup can be contained. Baker allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings of relief in his Rangers debut.
But, as Washington said, “We also have to put some runs on the board.”
The Rangers scored only two as Adrian Beltre sent a two-run homer over the center field wall in the fourth inning. It was Beltre’s 100th homer with the Rangers, putting him in an exclusive group as one of only five players with at least 100 homers with three different teams.
That became another footnote, though, with the team’s recent slide. But it’s too early to worry.
“We still have a long ways to go,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We have to keep battling out there. It’s been a tough run especially because nothing is going our way right now and we’re facing a team that is the exact opposite.”