Even when things have gone right for the Texas Rangers in a season that is spiraling down the drain, they seem to go wrong.
Take their latest loss Tuesday, No. 6 in a row.
Veteran right-hander Colby Lewis had his best stuff of the season, striking out six and allowing one run on six hits in six innings. He pitched into the seventh inning, also a first this season.
But that breakthrough performance, one he and the Rangers had been seeking since Lewis was activated from the disabled list in April, amounted to nothing.
Detroit scored five times in the seventh, three against Lewis, to turn a tie game into an 8-2 runaway. Lewis is hardly to blame, with the offense and the bullpen again doing more harm than good.
If any good came from the loss, it was Lewis’ outing.
“I felt like I really located tonight,” Lewis said. “I felt like I threw the ball really good. It was one of those nights that you’ve got to keep it close, and they came out on top.”
Lewis (5-5) allowed a first-inning homer to former teammate Ian Kinsler, who gave a little wave to the Rangers’ dugout while heading to first base and circled the bases with a snarky grin on his face, and a seventh-inning two-run blast to J.D. Martinez.
Kinsler’s antics, in his first game back at Globe Life Park since being dealt for Prince Fielder, didn’t sit well with manager Ron Washington or Lewis. Washington said that Lewis was miffed and “told Ian about it.”
Lewis didn’t offer much about the incident.
“Disappointed. Maybe that’s the word I need to use. That’s all,” Lewis said. “I love Kins, and that’s all. I was just disappointed a little bit. That’s all.”
Considering what Lewis had given them so far this season, the Rangers were pleased, even encouraged by what he did against the Tigers.
But the offense, with the exception of Adrian Beltre going 4 for 4, was rocked to sleep by the soft tosses of left-hander Drew Smyly. Since scoring 20 runs last week in the first two games at Oakland, the Rangers have scored 11 in their past five.
Newcomer Carlos Pena went 0 for 4. Shin-Soo Choo is batting .244 after also going 0 for 4. The Rangers were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position, including three straight misses after Beltre and Alex Rios reached to open the second.
“It’s just not getting the job done right now,” Washington said when asked about the offense. “We can’t seem to put anything together, but we’ll just keep battling.”
The bullpen didn’t give the Rangers’ offense a chance to rally, not that it would have.
Ben Rowen, the submarining rookie righty, retired one of the five he faced in the seventh. Shawn Tolleson walked in a run. Lefty Aaron Poreda allowed the first four batters he faced to reach in a two-run eighth, with Kinsler delivering both runs with a single to left field.
But in a season when the Rangers are searching for positives, Lewis’ effort certainly rates as one. He entered with a 5.97 ERA after the first 12 starts on his bionic right hip, and had his best slider to date.
He got Miguel Cabrera, the reigning two-time American League MVP, on a strikeout and a pop-out and a harmless fly ball to center field. Cabrera was one of two Tigers who didn’t leave a mark in their 16-hit effort.
“He threw the ball well and made some good pitches, especially to Cabrera,” Washington said. “I certainly didn’t see him work very hard out there. It’s just in that seventh inning he tried to get ahead, and they jumped on him.”
Catcher Robinson Chirinos helped keep the game tight by throwing out two runners trying to steal, one via a heady video challenge by Washington, and Daniel Robertson and Elvis Andrus relayed in the first inning to cut down Victor Martinez at home.
Lewis had thrown only 82 pitches when he entered the seventh. He needed 104 pitches to record 18 outs May 20, the only other time this season he has completed six innings.
The Tigers, though, opened double, homer, and the Rangers never recovered.
Even when things have gone right this season, they seem to go wrong.