Colby Lewis' story continues to unfold

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
11:43
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The remarkable story of Colby Lewis continued Friday night. He pitched six innings against the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals, giving up four runs and six hits in a 6-3 loss.

The fact Lewis is on the mound at all is the story of the night. One year ago, Lewis underwent hip resurfacing surgery. No major pro athlete had returned from a surgery of this kind.

[+] Enlarge Colby Lewis
Mike Stone/Getty ImagesColby Lewis returned from hip surgery this season and finds himself one of the Rangers' leaders in several pitching categories.
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington knew there would be doubters regarding Lewis' ability to return from surgery.

"Yeah, I think everybody did," Washington said. "No one has ever come back from that, especially a pitcher. Bo Jackson tried it and it didn't work [in football] and it may have worked for him a couple of years later, but it didn't work. But no one has ever come back from that and this is new territory. We really didn't know what to expect out of Colby. I think we all thought if there's anybody who can pull this off it would be Colby."

While staff ace Yu Darvish deals with inflammation in his right elbow and ponders a potential return from the disabled list, Lewis is standing right behind him in several pitching categories, proving people wrong.

He's second on the team in wins (eight), innings pitched (128) and strikeouts (105). Darvish leads the team in all those categories and here's Lewis, with that magical hip, right behind him.

"I definitely wanted to be in this position," Lewis said. "It's kinda crazy, I didn't think [I was] the guy who would go out there and probably throw the most innings on this squad after having hip replacement the year before. Crazy things happen, like I said before, I'm really, really thankful for the opportunity the Rangers have given me to come back and take the mound every five days. I know I have been inconsistent at times, especially in the first half and I think that's probably due to body adjustment and all of that kinda stuff."

However, the reality of Lewis' situation is 2015. He's auditioning for next season because, frankly, he doesn't have a contract and everything he does in this dismal Rangers season builds his case for next year.

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Rapid Reaction: Royals 6, Rangers 3

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
10:29
PM CT
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Kansas City Royals do a little bit of everything well from stealing bases to their bullpen work, but hitting home runs is just a problem.

Friday night, the AL Central-leading Royals hit two homers and used their strong bullpen to beat the Texas Rangers 6-3 at Globe Life Park.

The Royals' solid middle relievers of Wade Davis (23 1/3 scoreless innings, longest in the majors) and Kelvin Herrera (21 innings, second longest in the big leagues) held the Rangers from making a late push with 1 2/3 innings of solid relief work. Closer Greg Holland picked up his major league-leading 40th save and joined Dan Quisenberry and Joakim Soria as the only Royals with multiple seasons of 40 saves or more.

If you're going to slow the problems of your season, not allowing the weaknesses of your opponent to become strengths is pretty important. Rangers starter Colby Lewis gave up two home runs in an inconsistent outing when he battled through trouble too many times over six innings and 102 pitches of work.

This wasn't the type of games where Lewis needed to be perfect, but against a team without a true power hitting threat, giving up two homers is difficult to accept.

Lewis did some good things but just not enough of them.

How it happened: Lewis was given a 1-0 lead on a RBI double from Alex Rios. The Rangers' starter lost it all in the second inning. He allowed a 417-foot homer to Billy Butler that tied the score. One out later he hit Josh Willingham in the jersey. Mike Moustakas then singled up the middle and that was followed by an RBI single from Lorenzo Cain. Alcides Escobar singled to right center and the lead was 3-0. Lewis was able to get three consecutive flyouts in the third, but Willingham's leadoff homer in the fourth, traveling 408-feet on a 3-2 pitch, pushed the lead to 4-1. Lewis gave up home runs on pitches that were belt high and over the plate. For a team like the Royals, last in the majors with 80 home runs, you just can't allow yourself to get beat like this.

The Rangers were able to creep back in when Daniel Robertson, scored on a fielder's choice in the seventh to make the score 5-3. The Royals' bullpen was able to slow down the rally afterward.

More home woes: When you're on pace to lose 100 games, the record at home is something to consider as one of the reasons for your problems. The Rangers have now lost 16 of their past 22 games at home and are 5-9 at The Globe in the second half of the season.
The Rangers now have 39 home losses, among the worst in the big leagues, which puts them with the likes of Boston (37), Philadelphia (37) and Arizona (39).

Carp struggles: The Rangers will play Mike Carp at first base and maybe one of the corner outfield spots in a pinch. Carp can also pitch, if needed and throw his knuckle ball. At the plate, Carp has been a mess all season. Friday night he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and he has produced only two hits in his 20 at-bats the past six games. He left two runners on base, in the fourth and the sixth innings.

He did what? Third baseman Adrian Beltre has been the most consistent player for the Rangers. So when he committed an eighth-inning error, it was out of place. It was his 10th of the season and first since July 5 at the New York Mets, a span of 37 consecutive games where he hadn't had a miscue in the field.

What's next: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (9-10, 4.48) takes on RHP Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.15) in Saturday's game, whose start time has been pushed back to 7:25 p.m. CT. Before the game, the team will induct former team president Tom Schieffer into the Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame.

AL Central-leading Royals win 6-3 at Texas

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
10:26
PM CT
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura struck out six in six innings for his 10th victory, and Billy Butler and Josh Willingham had inning-starting homers for the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals in a 6-3 win at Texas on Friday night.

The hard-throwing Ventura (10-9) allowed one run, four hits, and three walks.

Greg Holland worked a scoreless ninth for his MLB-leading 40th save in 42 opportunities after Wade Davis retired all three batters he faces to extend the majors' longest active scoreless streak to 22 2/3 innings.

Lorenzo Cain shook off a 2-for-14 slump with three hits for Kansas City, which won for the 23rd time in 29 games.

Butler led off the second with his eighth homer, tying the game at 1-all. Cain and Alcides Escobar, the bottom two batters in the Royals lineup, had consecutive RBI singles in that inning against Colby Lewis (8-11) to put Kansas City ahead to stay.


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Pregame notes: Holland aching to return

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
5:55
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers left-handed starter Derek Holland will throw his final rehab session Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock in Las Vegas.

Holland is working his way back from left knee surgery and has not pitched for the Rangers this season. He's made five rehab starts between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco, throwing 14 2/3 innings and allowing seven earned runs with eight walks and 22 strikeouts.

"I'm excited and I want to be back and competing with these guys," said Holland, who is eligible to return next Friday. "I don't care how bad we're doing or how good we're doing. I want to be part of that team."

In his last rehab outing Tuesday for Round Rock, Holland threw five innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

"To me it's one of my best [starts], even though the stats might not be what I wanted," Holland said. "I'm just working on stuff. It's like spring training. I don't get caught up in results, there's no need to do that."

Pitching plans: Long reliever/starter Scott Baker is tentatively scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Royals. Baker (1-3, 5.75 ERA) earned his first victory of the season Aug. 12 against Tampa Bay. That victory ended a 0-20 spell for the Rangers in games that Baker has pitched in with the club. In his last seven relief appearances, Baker has a 2.08 ERA.

Nick Tepesch is scheduled to pitch Saturday night against the Royals. The Rangers could have moved Miles Mikolas to Sunday, but the team wants him to go Monday when they visit Seattle.

"If this weekend goes pretty good, we got Baker [for Sunday]," manager Ron Washington said. "If we have to use Baker [in relief beforehand], we have to make an adjustment."

Could the Rangers make a surprise move and skip Holland's start in Vegas and move him to Sunday?

"Right now, he's pitching in Las Vegas," Washington said. "We'll see how we'll get through the next two days against the Royals and we'll know who will be pitching Sunday."

Odor gets day off: Second baseman Rougned Odor was given Friday night off, his first break since Aug. 10 at Houston. Odor has just five hits in his last 26 at-bats to see his average fall to .255.

"You could see he's a little tired," said Washington, who added that he wanted to "give him a couple of days" off.

Odor is tied for second among American League rookies and tied for eighth overall in the AL with five triples. It's the most triples by a Rangers rookie since Elvis Andrus had eight in 2009.

ICYMI: SweetSpot hits of the week

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
5:49
PM CT
With a little more than a month left in the season and many division races still not settled, it's not too early to talk about what might have been, what might still could be, and what kinda is what we thought it kinda is ... or was ... or whatever. Just within the last week, we've had two new division leaders and a slew of injuries to reshuffle expectations. Did I mention that the waiver wire deadline hasn’t passed yet? Yup, it's a changing landscape, and whoever's doing the painting is keeping the 2014 baseball season a little squiggly.

Feel free to chime in on what you think might happen in the comments section below.

And without further ado -- because if we wait too long, these thoughts might go out of date faster than the Tulowitzki-to-Yankees rumors – on to the best of the SweetSpot Network contributing sites from the past week.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Inside the 'Zona
Roundup: Jackson Trade, Lessons from Saber Seminar: Ryan P. Morrison examines the D-backs' trade for Brett Jackson and discusses a dozen or so nuggets of cutting-edge sabermetrics wisdom from last weekend's Saber Seminar in Boston. Follow on Twitter: @InsidetheZona

Baltimore Orioles: Camden Depot
Jon Shepherd takes the Ice Bucket Challenge: Jon Shepherd, whose family has been impacted by ALS, has his take, but highlights the need to secure more long-term funding beyond episodic viral campaigns. Follow on Twitter: @CamdenDepot

Chicago Cubs: View From The Bleachers
Should the Cubs Pass on Signing an Ace this Offseason?: As we get closer and closer to the offseason, Joe Aiello wonders whether the Cubs should be looking at a nontraditional route when it comes to building their rotation for next season. Follow on Twitter: @vftb

Cleveland Indians: It's Pronounced Lajaway
The Evolution (or Devolution) of the Indians Pitching Staff: Stephanie Liscio takes a humorous month-by-month look at the fans' confidence level in the Tribe's starters. Follow on Twitter: @StephanieLiscio

Don't Give Up on Tomlin: Ryan McCrystal analyzes how Josh Tomlin has been a victim of bad defense and bad luck in recent weeks. Follow on Twitter: @TribeFanMcC

Colorado Rockies: Rockies Zingers
Honoring Todd Helton: The Colorado Rockies retired Todd Helton's jersey number, the first Rockies player afforded such an honor. Richard Bergstrom reminisces on his career.

Rockies Bloggers Panel Recording 8/16/14: It was one of the most anticipated panels of the year, filled with bloggers flying into town to commemorate Todd Helton's retirement and a special guest. Members of Rockies Zingers, Purple Row, Rockies Review and Mile High Sports discuss the Rockies injuries and trainers/coaches along with the potential offseason moves. Follow on Twitter: @RockiesZingers


New York Yankees: It's About The Money
Brian McCann's Crazy Reverse Platoon Split: Brad Vietrogoski attempts to explain the flip-flop of Brian McCann's production against right- and left-handed pitching this season. Follow on Twitter: @IIATMS

What If: The 1994 World Series: Domenic Lanza looked at how the '94 Fall Classic could have played out if the Yanks and Expos had stayed on track as the best teams in baseball that year. Follow on Twitter: @DomenicLanza

St. Louis Cardinals: Fungoes
Cardinals walk off via hit-by-pitch for second time this season: Jon Jay helped the Cardinals win their second straight game in their final at-bat Tuesday night when he drew a bases-loaded plunking from Reds reliever J.J. Hoover. The Cardinals hadn’t had a walk-off hit-by-pitch in more than 25 years, but now -- including Greg Garcia back on May 13 -- they’ve had two in 2014. Pip lists all of the walk-off HBPs over the last 25 years. Follow on Twitter: @fungoes

San Francisco Giants, West Coast Bias
Giants pursuing Rusney Castillo: Tim Kennedy delves into the Giants' dealings with Cuban player Rusney Castillo. With the possibility of being a contributor to a major league team in 2014, he could certainly help out a Giants ball club fighting for its life. Follow on Twitter: @giantsbaseball

Texas Rangers: One Strike Away
The Replacements: Brandon Land takes a look at the current roster for the Rangers, and why it's unreasonable to have high expectations in a season so rife with injury. Follow on Twitter: @one_strike_away

Cuban player smuggler pleads guilty

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
3:44
PM CT
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MIAMI -- A man accused of masterminding a human-trafficking ring pleaded guilty Friday to U.S. extortion charges involving the smuggling of more than 1,000 Cubans, including baseball players such as Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.

Eliezer Lazo, 41, entered the plea Friday in Miami federal court. Lazo is already serving a five-year prison sentence for money laundering in a Medicare fraud case and now faces up to 20 additional years behind bars. Lazo agreed to cooperate with investigators, which could reduce his prison time when he is sentenced later this year.

Prosecutors say Lazo led an organization that smuggled Cubans by boat into Mexico, where they were held until ransom payments were made. The cost was typically about $10,000 for each person, although it could be much higher in the case of Cuban baseball stars such as Martin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Davidson said the migrants who were not sports stars were often crowded together in rooms of 20 or more under armed guard, in prisonlike conditions. If the smugglers weren't immediately paid, Davidson said, "the Cuban migrants in Mexico were restrained and beaten while relatives could hear the screams on the phone."

Court documents show that the valuable Cuban baseball stars were treated far better than others involved with the smuggling ring, even though they were watched over by armed guards.

If the money was paid up front, prosecutors say the Cubans were brought directly to the U.S. without incident. Under the U.S. "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who reach shore generally are allowed to stay in the U.S. while those intercepted at sea are returned to the communist island.

All told, Davidson said Lazo's smuggling venture netted up to $1.5 million for the group.


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Washington hopes Yu Darvish returns

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
3:33
PM CT
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington doesn't want it to appear as if Yu Darvish is quitting on the team and said he hopes his ace will pitch in September.

"Well, I think it would just be the fact he doesn't quit on his teammates, that's all there is to me," Washington said on ESPN 103.3 FM on Friday.

Darvish said the inflammation in his right elbow that has him on the 15-day disabled list is mild and that he doesn't want to put himself at risk for further injury.

Darvish's commitment was called into question by some who felt he could pitch through the ailment, even in what has become a lost season for the Rangers. But Washington said he trusts his pitcher to tell him how he's feeling.

"He knows his body, and when you talk about the elbow, we really don't know what he's feeling other than what he tells us," Washington said. "The diagnosis says [one thing], but we actually don't know what he's feeling."

Washington said before Friday's game against the Royals that he wasn't sure when and whether Darvish would have a bullpen outing, which would kick-start Darvish's return from the DL. The Rangers tentatively have Miles Mikolas scheduled to pitch in the first game of a three-game series that begins Monday at Seattle, the first day Darvish is eligible to return.

Last week, Washington said every player has inflammation at this point in the season, including Darvish, and that to miss games isn't an acceptable practice.

"We're in a race to win ballgames," Washington said last Friday. "I expect Darvish to pitch on the 25th [of August, when he is eligible to be activated]. Why wouldn't he? So he's got inflammation. I've got inflammation.]


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W2W4: Rangers vs. Royals

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
9:00
AM CT
The Texas Rangers begin a three-game set with the Royals tonight at Globe Life Park. It's a busy weekend with the Rangers honoring former team president Tom Schieffer on Saturday.

Here's a preview:

What's up with the Royals?: First place. Yes, the first-place Royals visit trying to improve upon their 4-2 mark so far on their nine-game road trip. DH Billy Butler, whose eight-game hit streak ended Wednesday, has seen his average climb to .280 and leads the team with 128 hits. Left fielder Alex Gordon is hitting .284 and has a team-leading .360 OBP. Royals starters are 22-6 since July 222, the best mark in the big leagues. Closer Greg Holland leads the majors with 39 saves. Friday starter Yordano is tied with AL rookies with nine victories.

What's up with the Rangers?: The Rangers are 11-20 in the second half of the season but have won two of their last three games. Leonys Martin, despite a .202 average vs. left-handed pitchers, is 8-for-17 over his last five games against southpaws. Adrian Beltre has five hits and four runs scored over the last five games and has a slash line of .322/.376/.500. Elvis Andrus is doing well against LHP with a slash line of .333/.397/.417. 1B/OF Mike Carp continues to struggle since the trade with Boston. He's hitting .184 this month with no extra base hits.

Big weekend honor: On Friday night, longtime team employee Joe Macko will receive a plaque in his honor for nearly 30 years of service. The Rangers will honor former team president Tom Schieffer and induct him as the 17th member of the Texas Rangers baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday night. The event takes place at 6:35 p.m. CST. First pitch for Saturday's game was moved to 7:25 p.m. Schieffer was influential in getting the new baseball stadium built in Arlington 20 years ago.

Pitching matchups: Friday -- RHP Colby Lewis vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (9-9, 3.48); Saturday -- RHP Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.15) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (9-10, 4.48), Sunday: TBA vs. LHP Jason Vargas (10-5, 3.17).

Royals come to town as contenders

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
2:00
PM CT
The last time the Kansas City Royals reached the postseason they won the World Series. That was back in 1985.

The Royals have been rebuilding ever since and just ended a nine-year stretch of sub-.500 seasons with a 86-76 record last season. They head to Arlington this weekend leading the AL Central.

But the Royals, with all their young talent, are not without problems.

ESPN's Jayson Stark discussed some of the Royals' issues as contenders in the AL in a recent piece, including a lack of power in their lineup.

"But the bad news is, the Royals are still on pace to hit a mere 99.8 home runs this season," Stark writes. "So maybe they finish with 100 homers. Maybe they don't. But if they don't, you should know that playoff teams that fail to hit 100 home runs are almost as rare as a day without a Kardashian headline."

There were rumors the Royals had interest in Texas Rangers outfielder Alex Rios, but Rios' power numbers aren't exactly earth-shattering. He has just four home run son the season and is currently nursing a sprained ankle. He has a no-trade clause to six teams -- the Royals are one of those teams -- but he's said he's open to waiving that clause depending on the situation.

Rangers' officials believe things will improve next season when some of their young talent matures and some veteran players recover from injuries. GM Jon Daniels is determined to also improve the team in free agency, and ownership is committed to Daniels' plan.

So while the Rangers struggle this season, the resurgence of the Royals is alive and well, something that hasn't happened in a long time.

Reliever Neal Cotts claimed off waivers

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
12:30
PM CT
Texas Rangers reliever Neal Cotts has been claimed off revocable waivers, according to a source. The organization has until Friday to work out a trade with the claiming team or pull Cotts off waivers.

(UPDATE: The Rangers couldn’t work out a deal, so they pulled Cotts back, meaning he can no longer be traded.)

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If healthy, should Yu Darvish pitch again this season?

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The Rangers have sent Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios through waivers in the last few weeks. But the team has no intention of trading some of its high-priced talent such as Darvish because of the value he has to the franchise.

However, GM Jon Daniels is doing his due diligence analyzing the market for his players. Daniels said he's open to trading players entering the final year of their contracts, which is the case with Rios and Cotts. The team has an $13.5 million option on Rios and expressed interest in him returning.

Cotts becomes a free agent once the season ends, and the organization has expressed interest in bringing him back in 2015 even if he's traded to another team.

After being charged with a blown save August 8 against the Astros, Cotts hasn't allowed a run in his last 3 2/3 innings of work. He's allowed two hits and one while striking out two over that span.

Cotts has become one of manager Ron Washington's more reliable relievers, but with the club utilizing younger pitchers, the 34-year-old Cotts has become expendable at this stage of the season. It might be a different story had the Rangers been in contention.

Wash to manage All-Star team in Japan

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
11:55
AM CT
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington will manage a team of MLB All-Stars in a five-game series against Samurai Japan, Japan's National Team, beginning Nov. 11.

Games will be played in Osaka, Tokyo and Sapporo, with exhibition games in Osaka and Okinawa.

Among the major leaguers who will participate are Robinson Cano, Adam Jones, Yasiel Puig and Albert Pujols.

This is the 11th All-Star Series and the 36th time overall that a team of major leaguers has toured Japan for exhibition games. The current format started in 2006, with the U.S. going 5-0 against Japan's National Team.

The series ends Nov. 20

Martinez, Rangers top Marlins, 5-4

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
2:46
PM CT

MIAMI -- Nick Martinez allowed two runs over six innings in his homecoming, Alex Rios drove in two runs and the Texas Rangers roughed up Miami starter Nathan Eovaldi early on the way to a 5-4 win over the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon.

Leonys Martin had three hits for Texas, which grabbed a 5-0 lead after two innings.

Martinez (3-9) allowed six hits and threw 62 of his 96 pitches for strikes. He was born in nearby Hialeah and pitched at Belen Jesuit Prep, about 12 miles from Marlins Park.

Miami rallied in the ninth with solo homers by Marcell Ozuna and pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both off Neftali Feliz. And with the tying run on first, Feliz closed out his fifth save in six chances by striking out Donovan Solano to end the game.

Eovaldi (6-8) gave up nine hits and five runs, four earned, in five innings.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.323 17 65 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 65
RA. Beltre 64
OPSA. Beltre .879
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182