Return of Lewis the lone bright spot for Rangers

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Monday, April 14, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

LM Otero/AP

ARLINGTON, Texas – Before Monday’s Texas game against Seattle got ugly in the sixth inning Colby Lewis was stealing the show.

It wasn’t just because Lewis was returning to the mound for the first time since the summer of 2012 either. It was because Lewis was showing flashes of the form he displayed for 2 ½ seasons when he was one of the workhorses of the Texas staff.

And after exiting after 5 1/3 innings of what turned out to be a dismal 7-1 loss to the Mariners, Lewis was still holding himself up the same lofty standards he did before he had surgery for a torn right flexor tendon and hip resurfacing.

Hip-surgery trailblazer or not, Lewis doesn’t feel like he gave his team enough of a chance to win.

Whether or not that’s the case or not is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that Lewis pitched good enough to help the Texas pitching staff going forward and that’s exactly what the 34-year-old intends to do.

"I felt like good, bad or ugly it was just a steppingstone to get the first one out of the way," Lewis said. "I definitely wanted a different outcome. I want to expect a little more out of myself to go a little bit deeper in the game. It is what it is and move on and five days from now get the ball again and go after it."

There was more good from Lewis than bad Monday and the ugly was mainly reserved for the Texas defense and scuffling offense that hasn’t put up a multiple-run inning in a week.

Lewis, who admitted to being a little bit nervous, struck out the first batter of the game and needed just 10 pitches to get out of the first. He carried a shutout into the fifth inning when Mike Zunino hit a slider out for a solo homer.

Things unraveled all the way around in the sixth though as he was tagged for three of the six runs Seattle scored in the frame. That number could have been better but the Rangers committed three errors, could have been charged with two more and also had a call overturned on a review.

He ended up allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out four in his 89-pitch outing. Those aren’t Cy Young numbers by any stretch but now the Rangers know what they can expect out of Lewis and they’re happy to have it.

"I thought he was outstanding, I really did," said Texas manager Ron Washington, who got to watch all of Lewis’ pitching from the dugout before getting ejected in the ugly sixth. "He didn’t walk anyone. He pounded the strike zone. The runs they got off him they earned by hitting the ball. Colby was good, had a good breaking ball, was able to spot his fastball. We’re happy to have him back. Once again welcome back Colby."

While the result was a loss for Lewis, Washington said he saw more downhill push from Lewis as a result of the hip surgery. He also saw more of a backside swing from the big right-hander and more zip on the fastball.

Those are all positive sand Lewis felt that way too.

"I felt like it was real similar," said Lewis, who had a roster spot cleared for him earlier in the day when the Rangers designated reliever Daniel McCutchen for assignment. "I felt like I commanded the ball down in the zone, both sides of the plate. Threw more of a strike slider to the nine-hole hitter (Zunino). I was able to throw stuff when I needed to, behind in the count, ahead of the count. That’s all I really look at."

It wasn’t a perfect outing for Lewis for sure, but on a night when everything else went wrong, at least Lewis provided something for the 23,081 shivering fans at Globe Life Park to cheer about.