Big inning results in loss for Lewis, Rangers
Toronto's four-run fourth too much for offense to overcome
TORONTO -- Walks aren't often featured on highlight reels, or in flashy game montages. They are often overlooked on box scores and discounted in fantasy baseball leagues. They are boring.
But they can quietly ruin a start.
Just ask Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who issued four free passes and hit a batter in Sunday's 5-2 loss at Rogers Centre, as the Blue Jays completed their three-game sweep of the Rangers.
"If I don't walk four, what do they score, maybe two?" Lewis said, shrugging his shoulders in frustration. "I had four walks and they scored five times -- that should never happen."
Lewis was dominant early in the ballgame, walking one without allowing a hit over his first three innings of work. He continued to cruise with two outs in the fourth, that is, until things started heading south.
With Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill already aboard courtesy of a leadoff walk, shortstop Alex Gonzalez singled to plate the Blue Jays' first run of the game. Lewis then proceeded to plunk struggling first baseman Lyle Overbay and walk Jose Bautista to load the bases.
With the count 3-2 on catcher John Buck, and on the brink of walking home the Jays' second run of the game, Lewis was forced to pound the strike zone. Buck didn't miss, sending a fastball off the center-field wall for a three-run double -- a call the umpire's upheld after the Jays asked for it to be reviewed as manager Cito Gaston thought it was a grand slam.
"One inning killed us today," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It was just that fourth inning where [Lewis] walked those guys and hit a batter.
"Make one of those guys put the ball in play, you never know what might happen, but it didn't happen. Up until that point I thought he was in control of the ballgame."
Bautista added a solo blast in the sixth off Lewis, his third of the series, to extend the Jays' lead to 5-1 and chase Lewis from the ballgame. Lewis went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on only three hits. His record dropped to 3-2 on the season with a 3.68 ERA.
Over the course of the series the Blue Jays scored 17 of their 27 runs with two outs, including all five in Sunday's loss.
What makes the loss even more difficult for the Rangers is that they out-hit the Jays, 9-3, stranding five baserunners.
"The game is about scoring runs," Washington said, "We had plenty of opportunities, we just didn't hit with runners in scoring position."
After being shut out by left-hander Ricky Romero on Saturday, the Rangers' offense was only able to muster two runs against Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow -- a Matt Treanor sacrifice fly in the second and a bases-loaded double-play ground ball from pinch-hitter Vladimir Guerrero in the seventh, their most promising scoring opportunity of the afternoon.
Morrow pitched six strong innings, allowing the two runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts.
"He was working all his pitches, especially his curveball and slider," outfielder Nelson Cruz, who struck out in all four of his at-bats Sunday, said. "I've faced him a couple times and I've never seen him throw a curveball. It was working pretty good and he was working it in any count for strikes -- he was definitely on his game."
While the Rangers struggled collectively over their past two games against Toronto, Josh Hamilton had a particularly bad weekend. Hamilton struck out nine times over the series with only one hit, a single in Friday's 16-10 loss.
Despite the Rangers having three times as many hits as the Blue Jays, Sunday's contest boiled down to who could make the most out of what they were given. Just ask Lewis.
"With four walks, I pretty much beat myself."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.