Colby Lewis’ record is almost beside the point. What the 35-year-old right-hander has accomplished in 2014 is nothing short of miraculous, when put in proper perspective.
Lewis (8-11) was the losing pitcher Friday night as the Texas Rangers lost to the Kansas City Royals 6-3 at Globe Life Park. But by all accounts, Lewis shouldn’t have even made it this far.
It was a year ago Friday when Lewis underwent hip resurfacing surgery in a last-ditch attempt to save his baseball career. Lewis, who allowed four runs in six innings to the Royals, has gone at least five innings in 21 of his 23 starts this season.
In spring training, as Lewis gingerly started his comeback, the idea that he would lead the team with 23 starts and be second on the staff with 128 1/3 innings in late August would have elicited a massive eyebrow raise.
Not even manager Ron Washington knew what to expect out of Lewis. So Washington declined to have any expectations in March.
“This is new territory,” Washington said before Friday’s game. “We really didn’t know what to expect out of Colby. But I think we all thought if there’s anybody who can pull this off, it would be Colby. But we weren’t sure.”
For Lewis, the most gratifying aspect of this season, his first since season-ending elbow surgery in July 2012, is just being back and feeling healthy enough to keep taking the mound on a regular basis.
“I definitely wanted to be in this position,” Lewis said after striking out two Friday. “It’s kind of crazy. I didn’t think I’d be the guy that would go out there and throw the most innings on this squad [after] having hip replacement the year before, but crazy things happen.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity the Rangers have given me to come back and take the mound every five days.”
Of course, Lewis knows, if the pitching staff had not been wrecked by injury, he may have not been afforded the opportunity to work so frequently. But he has stepped into the role and, although inconsistent, has given the Rangers a dependable arm.
“I was hoping for everybody to be healthy and I’d be fighting for the fifth spot,” Lewis said. “Never would have thought, with our team being as banged up as it is, taking the ball the most times.”
Lewis has been able to compile innings, something that hasn’t been a regular occurrence for the injury-plagued staff.
“He’s been a huge factor,” Washington said after the game. “I think when you look at it, it just shows you his professionalism. It just shows you his experience, that he doesn’t panic when it looks like innings are getting out of control.
“He’s able to sort of minimize the damage, and that’s what he did. He gave us six tonight and when he left, we were in it.”
The Royals, who entered Friday’s game with a major league-low 78 home runs, hit two solo shots in the first four innings against Lewis to take a 4-1 lead. Lewis gave way to the bullpen, which was tagged for single runs in the seventh and ninth innings.
After the Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first, the Royals scored three in the second. Billy Butler tied it with a solo homer to left to lead off the second inning.
The Royals added to their lead in the seventh, when Lorenzo Cain led off with a double off the wall in right, stole third and then scored on Mike Carp’s fielding error at first to make it 5-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers scored twice after Adam Rosales led off with a double and scored on pinch hitter Daniel Robertson’s single to right-center. Robertson scored on Shin-Soo Choo’s groundout to first to make it 5-3.
“We had a chance, we just couldn’t scratch some runs that were available to us out there,” Washington said.