Colby Lewis didn’t throw a single pitch Wednesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, and the veteran right-hander won’t pitch again until Monday in Arlington.
Nick Tepesch was the Texas Rangers’ starting pitcher for the first time in 11 days. Tepesch is one of the Rangers’ young starters who relies on command and changing speeds more than velocity and raw stuff.
He isn’t too different than Lewis in that regard. Nor is Nick Martinez nor Miles Mikolas, though Mikolas can reach back for a mid-90s fastball if needed.
So on a day when the offense, with the exception of Adam Rosales, didn’t see a carryover from its power-packed, 16-0 victory Tuesday, their starting pitcher felt the Power of Colby in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Tepesch allowed only six hits in 5 2/3 innings, and Rosales drove in all three runs with the first two-homer game of his career as the Rangers won consecutive games for the first time since June 27-28 against Minnesota.
A lot went well for the Rangers in a game started by White Sox ace Chris Sale, but more strong mound work, this time from Tepesch on the heels of Lewis’ shutout a night earlier.
“I think Colby and I are pretty similar pitchers as far as stuff and how we approach the game,” Tepesch said. “Watching him last night gave me a pretty good idea of how to go about pitching to these guys. It’s definitely a positive thing to see him work through the lineup like that.”
Tepesch had only one 1-2-3 inning, the second after Rosales’ two-run homer had put the Rangers in front, but he survived the next three innings thanks to a double play in each frame.
The first, in the third, was a liner to Rosales and a flip to Elvis Andrus at second base after Alejandro De Aza had led off with a triple. The others were on infield grounders that erased leadoff singles and ended innings.
Tepesch got a boost from Roman Mendez in the sixth after he had been lifted at 79 pitches on a day he was on an 80-pitch limit. Runners were at second and third, but Mendez got Jose Abreu, a lock to be Rookie of the Year, on a grounder to Andrus at shortstop.
Tepesch, who hadn’t pitched since July 26 because of a sore left knee, was in a position to win for the first time since June 27.
“He hadn’t pitched in 10 days, so I didn’t know what to expect out there,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was able to stay focused. That’s what it’s going to take — just being focused, executing pitches and no panic. Today … he just executed.”
Washington, though, said that it will take much more for his young pitchers to succeed than just following the blueprint Lewis drew up in his game Tuesday. The pitchers still have to command their pitches and execute them, which can’t be done just by copying Lewis.
But the pitchers watched closely as Lewis stifled the White Sox by hitting his spots and changing speeds. It wasn’t lost on them.
“I paid a lot of attention to that game,” said right-hander Miles Mikolas, who will start Friday at Houston after the Rangers’ off day Thursday. “To watch Colby go out there and change speeds and move the ball in and out and to see how effective he was, it just shows how effective you can be when you mix speeds and attack the strike zone.”
Rosales, playing in his hometown before friends, family and his 6-week-old daughter, started the seventh with a homer that Dayan Viciedo countered in the White Sox’s seventh with a solo shot off Mendez.
Neal Cotts got the next five outs, including Abreu on a liner to end the eighth with a runner at second, and Neftali Feliz touched 95 mph en route to his fourth save in his first outing since blowing the Rangers’ two-run lead Sunday at Cleveland.
It was good day all around and a good series, the first series win of the month after going all of July with just one. Contributions were made in all phases Wednesday, including the Power of Colby.
“It certainly let them know that if you can execute, good things can happen,” Washington said. “And today Nick did.”