ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas right-hander Colby Lewis isn't exactly where he wants to be with his pitching as he tries to get ready for the postseason.
He's getting close though.
Lewis (6-2), who missed two months with a strained right lat, makes his second start since coming off the disabled list Sunday when the Rangers close the series against Oakland and left-hander Ross Detwiler.
Texas is closing in on the American League West title with a magic number of five despite their 11-2 loss to Oakland on Saturday. They'll need a solid Lewis if they're to have any success in the postseason.
Lewis, the likely No. 3 starter in the playoffs, went 5 1/3 innings in a 3-2 loss to Los Angeles last week. Lewis allowed three runs on seven hits and threw 86 pitches. Getting built back up as far as his pitch count is Lewis' priority now.
“I feel like there's still a little bit left that I need to tighten up, making sure it's really just getting my pitch count back and not really worrying about my innings,” Lewis said. “I still think they're going to be leery about me going out there and throwing a bunch of them. They want to make sure I stay nice and healthy and be ready for postseason. I think it's that way with all the starters now. They're not going to let guys throw 120 pitches before they go out there for the playoffs.”
Lewis was on track for an All-Star caliber season before he got hurt as he opened the season 6-1 before the injury. Lewis said he can't think about what was lost for him because of the injury, and is instead looking forward to helping a club that's aiming for its fifth playoff trip since 2010.
Since nothing has been sewn up yet though, Lewis isn't looking at his starts as tuneups for the postseason.
“I've got to go out and make pitches and keep it tight,” he said. “It is what it is. I can't go out there and view myself as these are rehab starts. We're trying to win ballgames. We're trying to tie this thing up so we kind of relax a little bit, get the guys who need rest the rest needed before the postseason and move forward.”
For Lewis to be successful Sunday, he's going to have to do something few pitchers have been able to do recently — stop Oakland third baseman Ryon Healy.
The rookie went 1-for-4 on Saturday to extend his hitting streak to eight games. In those eight games, Healy is 16-for-33 with three home runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored.
“He's faced tough pitching,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He's been around to where he's had to make adjustments now, and this is a guy going into spring training was probably behind some of the guys you've seen come up in September. He's a very confident guy, and he wants to be there every day. He will have nothing to do with not starting a game. I can continually talk to him about his workload, and he doesn't even want to hear about it.”