Lewis powers Rangers to series victory
Hurler knocks in winning run, fans 10 during eight strong innings
MILWAUKEE -- Pitcher Colby Lewis made Rangers history on Sunday afternoon. The statistics are trivial and cool.
That's not what his teammates will remember. This may only be June, but the Rangers are fighting for first place in the American League West. They were facing the Brewers' best pitcher, and this was a crucial situation.
Big hits don't come like this very often, whether it's from a batting champion, RBI champion or a pitcher.
"Pretty impressive," third baseman Michael Young said after Lewis delivered a two-run single in the sixth inning that carried the Rangers to a 7-2 victory at Miller Park.
Lewis finished with two hits on the afternoon and also held the Brewers to two runs over eight innings to earn his sixth victory of the season.
"Man, I'll tell you, he looked good," said Josh Hamilton, who had a home run, double and three RBIs on the afternoon. "And on top of that, pitching a good game. He did a great job with the bat. It looks like he's done that before."
Lewis has in Japan. He hit five home runs in two years there. He had only one at-bat in the Major Leagues prior to this, and that was a strikeout against Florida's Livan Hernandez in 2003. Now he is the only Rangers pitcher to ever have at least two hits and two RBIs in one game.
"That was definitely a lot of fun," Lewis said.
Again, this was not about making history but winning a close game against a tough opponent. Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo, with the bases loaded, two outs and his team down by one run, had already struck out nine Rangers on the afternoon and was doing everything he could to make Lewis his 10th victim.
"Gallardo was pretty good," Young said. "He had his A game and was going right at Colby. That wasn't like the pitcher coming up with nobody on and two outs, just throwing fastballs. That was a big at-bat, and he and Colby were going at it."
Lewis gave up up a home run to Prince Fielder in the first, and Hamilton hit a two-run home run off Gallardo in the fourth. The Rangers led, 2-1, in the sixth when Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single and went to third on Hamilton's double.
With runners at second and third, Gallardo proceeded to strike out Justin Smoak and Max Ramirez. That brought up Andres Blanco, batting eighth, and Brewers manager Ken Macha decided to walk him intentionally. That loaded the bases with two outs for Lewis, who grounded out and struck out in his first two plate appearances.
"They prepared us pretty well for this," Lewis said. "We've been taking quite a few swings lately, and we were prepped to be ready for Interleague Play."
Lewis swung and missed at a strike, took a fastball outside, then fouled off a curve. That made it 1-and-2.
"When I got to two strikes, I basically told myself to spread out, react to the fastball and put the ball in play," Lewis said. "I just tried to put a good swing on it. I know he's been dealing the last six or seven starts."
Gallardo threw a fastball and a curve, and Lewis fouled them both off. Gallardo tried a curve that bounced in the dirt for ball two and a 94-mph fastball that Lewis fouled straight back.
"He fouled off some good pitches," Gallardo said. "He had some pretty good swings in his first two at-bats. He definitely knew what he was doing. It just shocked me that he fouled off all those pitches."
Gallardo then threw one more curve, and Lewis smacked it down the third-base line and into the left-field corner for a two-run single that gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead.
"It looked like we should throw him more breaking balls, but that's what he hit for a [single]," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "He fouled off a lot of pitches. That was a huge at-bat there."
The hit snapped an 0-for-25 skid by Rangers pitchers in Interleague Play and was their first RBI since Ricardo Rodriguez drove in a run on June 12, 2005, in Florida. It's the first time since June 18, 1997, that a Rangers pitcher had two RBIs in a game.
Lewis had another single in the eighth inning and ended up scoring on a two-run double by Julio Borbon. He is the first Rangers pitcher to have multiple hits in a game since Chan Ho Park in 2005. But he is the only Rangers pitcher to ever have multiple hits and multiple RBIs in a game.
His two hits were one fewer than the Brewers had off him in eight innings. Fielder had two home runs, but the Brewers got nothing else. Lewis walked one and struck out 10. It's the fourth time he's struck out at least 10 batters this season. The last Rangers pitcher to do that was Nolan Ryan in 1991.
"I really didn't know I had 10 until the end of the game," Lewis said.
It's a piece of historical trivia. What mattered was a big hit in a big situation off a tough pitcher.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.