Texas Rangers

Rangers’ Colby Lewis much better second time around

Rangers starter Colby Lewis worked three scoreless innings against the Angels on Tuesday.
Rangers starter Colby Lewis worked three scoreless innings against the Angels on Tuesday. AP

The lineup Mike Scioscia sent out to face Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis on Tuesday afternoon won’t be anywhere close to the lineup the Angels manager writes up during the regular season.

Four of Los Angeles’ regulars, and maybe a fifth, faced Lewis at Tempe Diablo Stadium. None of them was named Mike Trout, the reigning American League MVP, or Albert Pujols, who went 6 for 13 with two homers against Lewis in 2014.

Trout was only 6 for 15, but he hit two homers.

However, Lewis can’t be blamed for who he was facing. He still had to get outs, which he struggled to do in the Rangers’ Cactus League opener. The first six Kansas City hitters Lewis faced on March 3 all scored, with the final three hitting homers, before Lewis finally got an out.

The results Tuesday were as they should be each time out: better. Lewis retired the first eight batters and allowed only a hit and a walk in three scoreless innings, but the Rangers saw their four-game winning streak end as the Angels scored the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth for a 5-4 win.

“It turned out good. Better than last time,” said Lewis, who threw only 46 pitches. “Anything other than giving up six runs in an inning is better, right?”

The storyline, though, was the same: Just working toward the regular season.

To heck with the results, good or bad. No need to panic after the landscape of the Rangers’ rotation changed drastically the past few days.

Staff ace Yu Darvish was in New York on Tuesday to visit with orthopedist Dr. David Altchek for a second opinion on his ailing right elbow.

Darvish is expected to decide Wednesday between season-ending Tommy John surgery or four months of rehab with no guarantees that he can avoid surgery.

Either way, the Rangers’ rotation will be leaking oil, but that doesn’t change Lewis’ job now or in early April when the regular season opens.

“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to get ready for the season,” Lewis said. “It’s no distraction to me. Of course, it’s a blow to the rotation. But we’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to step in.”

The veterans, though, are the ones who outsiders are now expecting to do more. Internally, Lewis, Derek Holland and Yovani Gallardo are simply expected to be themselves.

“I just want them to be who they are and get themselves ready,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Take the mind-set of, ‘Hey, we all need to just show up and be who we are and just continue to get better each time out and work our way to the season.’”

To that end, Lewis was “Colby-esque,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. He shook off what happened last week at Surprise Stadium by getting quick outs and inducing weak contact. The only hit Lewis allowed was to former TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston, who just beat out an infield hit on a chopper to shortstop.

Lewis stayed out of the middle of plate, let the defense do its job and provided a shutdown inning after the Rangers had taken a 2-0 lead on Leonys Martin’s two-run homer in the third.

That’s what the Rangers need from Lewis.

“Just the veteran presence,” Maddux said. “You don’t change your process. The process was there.”

That’s what spring training is for Lewis, a process, no matter what happened the last time out or whatever injury is facing the rotation or whoever is or isn’t in the opposing lineup.

“The goal is to get better each time out,” Banister said. “He was markedly better.”

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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