10/09/10 10:25 PM ET
Hard luck follows Lewis into ALDS outing
By Jim Street / MLB.com
Though he didn't last long enough on Saturday to qualify for a quality start in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays, Lewis was the best hurler the Rangers had going for them in what became a 6-3 loss before a record crowd of 51,746 at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Lewis said the atmosphere was unlike anything he has ever experienced.
But unfortunately for him and the Rangers, there was too much of a similarity between the regular season and postseason.
Lewis had six losses and five no-decisions in his 20 quality starts, while the remainder of the starting rotation lost only four quality starts combined.
After watching left-handed teammates Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson hold the Rays to one run in the first two games of the best-of-five series, Lewis got his shot at the AL East champs and departed after five-plus innings with a 1-0 lead.
In each of the first five innings he pitched, Lewis retired the first two batters he faced. But getting the third out became increasingly difficult, increasing his pitch count to the point where manager Ron Washington pulled the plug after a leadoff walk in the sixth inning.
It was Lewis' fifth free pass of the game and ended a streak of falling behind five consecutive batters.
"I felt myself nibbling too much at times, trying to keep them off the basepaths," he said. "I got myself into jams with a couple of walks and got out of them, but I was not pleased with the walks I gave up."
With a 1-0 lead which he had since the third inning, Lewis had little room for error and every pitch meant something.
"I was trying to make good-quality pitches," he said. "They were down in the zone and I ended up walking guys. But you can't give in to them and throw 'cookies' on 2-and-0 or 3-and-1 counts."
Lewis said he would have liked to have "gone more" than five-plus innings, but he understood that throwing 85 pitches were too many.
"The bottom line was falling behind guys when there were two outs," he said. "That shouldn't have been the case."
The five walks matched the club record held by Aaron Sele since Oct. 5, 1999, in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees.
Lewis was hoping to end the Division Series in three games, but because the Rays extended it at least one more day, his next start would come in the AL Championship Series.
There was one aspect of Saturday's game he never will forget.
"The atmosphere was awesome," he said. "I had goosebumps pretty much from the time I started warming up. It was completely breathtaking at times. This was my first time in the playoffs and it definitely was a warm welcome home."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.