ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 18: Colby Lewis #48 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 18, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis' start on Monday afternoon in the pivotal Game 3 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay should long live in Texas Rangers lore. And if the Rangers can take one of the next two games and advance to their second straight ALCS, Lewis should go down as the greatest postseason pitcher in club history.
Granted, that's not saying a whole lot considering that prior to last season the Rangers had won one playoff game, in their first-ever playoff game when John Burkett got a win in Yankee Stadium.
So the argument basically comes down to Lewis, who threw six innings, gave up one hit and two walks and struck out six while allowing a run on the lone hit — a Desmond Jennings home run in the fourth inning, and Cliff Lee.
Last season, Lewis went 3-0 in the postseason with a 1.71 ERA and pitched an 8-inning gem in the Game 6 ALCS clincher over the New York Yankees. Lee went 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA — his two losses coming in the World Series, where Lewis won the Rangers' only game of the series.
On Monday, Lewis was phenomenal. After going perfect through three innings, Lewis ran into some trouble in the fourth when Jennings hit a leadoff homer that was followed by a B.J. Upton walk. Things looked hairy there before he struck out Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Johnny Damon, the Rays' 3, 4 and 5 hitters. He struck the hot-hitting Longoria out three times on the night.
So just because we're keeping track, Monday night moves Lewis to 4-0 in his postseason career with a 1.67 ERA in his career. Despite his up-and-down regular season, which saw him finish 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA, Lewis showed that big-game pitchers step up in big-time games. And no game could be bigger than a Game 3 in a tied up best-of-5 series. Lewis might have saved the Rangers season.
Now it's up to Matt Harrison.