May 4, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA: Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis (48) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE

Game 26 – Moments that Mattered


Something is definitely amiss with the Rangers pitching staff. Colby Lewis continued what is a somewhat alarming trend of underwhelming starts. Its hard to really put your finger on what exactly is going on; in the first few weeks, the Rangers pitchers seemed unhittable, missing bats left and right. When contact was made, it was a boring grounder to third, sucked into the vortex that is Adrian Beltre and gunned down to first, or routine fly ball flagged down by Hamilton in cinematic fashion. These days the balls just seem to be dropping where the Rangers defenders aren’t, and that’s costing us wins.

Here are a few notes from that game:

1. Colby Lewis – His performance tonight was puzzling, but really more in line with his preseason expectations. Colby was expected to be the fifth starter, and he sure looked like it tonight. He wasn’t able to get his characteristic sink on the fastball, letting it sit up in the zone where it was crushed by the Indians hitters, leading to two home runs. a double, and a triple. Although he managed to limit his walks, he wasn’t really getting any strikeouts, so he had trouble pitching out of jams. None of this really comes as a surprise; there are days Colby isn’t going to be “on”, and that’s really not a huge deal. Moreover, he stayed in the game, battled like a veteran, and saved the bullpen some work.

2. Speaking of which, Robbie Ross was terrific. After having a sort of accidentally disastrous outing against the Jays, Ross has come roaring back, choosing to put his struggles behind him rather than get wound up in worry. He’s been a terrific player on the mound, but this is probably his most encouraging showing so far; he showed veteran poise out of the bullpen, something no amount of talent can create.

3. Mitch Moreland seems like he’s back. He hit a double, a single, and managed to avoid striking out. In fact, in third inning with David Murphy and Mike Napoli at third and first, respectively, Moreland ripped a line drive that was snagged by the Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. Had the fielder not be so fortunate, Moreland would have given the Rangers at least one additional run, and possibly changed the outlook of the entire game. If Moreland can get hot, then he can hopefully replace some offense when Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler cool off.

4. A key moment really influenced the outcome of the game: the two-run triple Colby gave up to Johnny Damon. I don’t really have anything against Damon, but he really isn’t that great anymore; in fact, he was 0-3 up to that point. It might have been wiser to put in Robbie Ross, who was warmed up at that point, to face the lefty Damon; on the other hand, I just made a big fuss about how surprised I was by Robbie’s bounceback performance, so its wrong to expect Ron Washington to be able to predict something like that. Before the triple, the game was within reach, especially against the Indian’s closer Chris Perez, who is not terrific. After the triple, the game was kind of done.

I’m still pleased with the Rangers performance so far, but I do feel like this is one of these winnable games that I wish hadn’t gotten away. The Indians are a good team, but we were making great contact off their pitcher, and had our best pitcher so far this season on the mound. We’re going to lose at least 60 games this year, but this one  doesn’t feel great. On the other hand, the Angels, ESPN analysts’ consensus pick to win the World Series as well as the AL West, have had two straight complete game shutouts pitched against them, first by Brandon Morrow and then by Henderson Alvarez. Its good to keep in mind we aren’t the only team with occasional disappointments.