A year ago, Colby Lewis was a starting pitcher for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan’s Central League. Fast-forward 12 months and Lewis was responsible for starting the first World Series game ever hosted at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Oh by the way, his team is down 2-0 and no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in World Series history. No problem said Mr. Lewis.
In the most important game in franchise history (until tomorrow), Lewis tossed 7.2 innings – allowing just two solo home runs to a San Francisco lineup that scored 20 runs over the first two games of the series. He gave up five hits overall, walking two batters and striking out six Giants along the way – including former Tampa Bay Ray Pat Burrell three times.
If you remember back to our preview for game three, Lewis’ slider was a key aspect coming into the game. On Saturday, 35% of his pitches were sliders. He not only threw a lot of sliders, but was able to throw them for strikes. Of the 36 sliders thrown, 25 of them went for strikes – including five swings and misses. Lewis threw 103 pitches overall with 75 of them being strikes.
Offensively, the Rangers did not have a breakout game, but got an early lead on a three-run blast from Mitch Moreland. Although Jorge Cantu was acquired at the trade deadline to hit left-handed pitchers, it was the left-handed Moreland who got the startat first base against Giants’ southpaw Jonathan Sanchez.
Speaking of Sanchez, he allowed all four Texas runs and did not make it out of the fifth inning. Despite his left-handed platoon advantage, he gave up the big blast to Moreland and a solo shot to another lefty, Josh Hamilton. After the game, Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti expressed concern about Sanchez’s velocity and possible fatigue. This could be a problem down the road since Sanchez is on pace to be the team’s starter should the series reach a seventh game.
In the ninth inning, rookie closer Neftali Feliz came out of the Texas bullpen to slam the door to preserve the first World Series victory in Rangers’ history. In doing so, Feliz also insured Lewis going in record book as the first pitcher to win a World Series game for the franchise.
On Sunday evening, the Giants will turn to 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner in game four with another chance to take control of the series. The Rangers will counter with 13-game winner Tommy Hunter, whose peripheral stats suggests he has been a very lucky man this season. Expect San Francisco to counter with a left-handed heavy lineup that may include Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa.