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Monday, October 3, 2011
Colby Lewis relishes pitching in playoffs

By Richard Durrett

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It seems that when the postseason lights come on -- whether they are in Arlington or inside the dome at Tropicana Field -- Colby Lewis doesn't squint. There's something about the playoff atmosphere that suits him.

"He trusts his stuff and when he dots up his command, that’s what sets him apart from everyone else," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He believes in what he can do."

Monday's Game 3 was another example. He was up and down this season and came into the playoffs after posting a 5.65 ERA in September. But Lewis was up to the challenge of the resilient Tampa Bay lineup.

He allowed one hit -- a solo home run to leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings in the fourth -- and fought through some long at-bats. He had six strikeouts and two walks and threw 93 pitches in six innings. And he got yet another postseason win, his fourth in the last two seasons.

His team got him the lead with four runs in the seventh and the bullpen, though shaky at times, held it down at the end.

"I really wasn't too worried too much," Lewis said about watching the final three innings. "Our bullpen has been pretty phenomenal all year long."

Lewis was able to spot his fastball well enough to work off it. And his slider was very effective, giving him the chance to change speeds and location to hitters on both sides of the plate. The game continues Lewis' trend of excellent work on the road. He came in with a road ERA more than two runs lower than at home.

He's now chasing down a Hall of Famer. He has five straight consecutive starts of two runs or fewer to begin his postseason career. Sandy Koufax holds the record at six.

"For me, I think it's just October, it's either win or go home," Lewis said. "So you kind of go out there with the mentality of just blow your lid and that's what I tried to tell myself a lot, is it's one batter at a time and then move on from there."

BTW, here's the list of starting pitchers who have pitched at least six innings and allowed one or fewer runs. Lewis is the first to do it since Derek Lowe and Woody Williams did it in 2004. Here you go:

Colby Lewis, 2011 Rangers (vs. Rays)
Derek Lowe, 2004 Red Sox (vs. Yankees)
Woody Williams, 2004 Cardinals (vs. Astros)
Roger Clemens, 2000 Yankees (vs. Mariners)
David Cone, 1999 Yankees (vs. Braves)
Orlando Hernandez, 1999 Yankees (vs. Braves)
Bill Bevens, 1947 Yankees (vs. Dodgers)
Claude Passeau, 1945 Cubs (vs. Tigers)
Ed Reulbach, 1906 Cubs (vs. White Sox)