HOUSTON -- With each passing game, Colby Lewis continues to show what he can do with that reconstructed hip, a delivery that he can finish off and a full complement of pitches with movement and location.
The Rangers started to see this in the second half of 2014, and it is becoming more pronounced at the beginning of this season. The latest evidence came Wednesday night when he held the Astros to one run over eight innings in an 11-3 victory at Minute Maid Park.
"I can't say enough about the job Colby has done," manager Jeff Banister said. "Excellent job moving his fastball around, the slider is in play, and he is building off of each start.
Lewis took a four-hit shutout into the eighth, giving him a 13-inning scoreless streak, including six frames from his previous start against the A's. That streak came to an end on a double by Jason Castro and a single by Jonathan Villar. But that was it for the Astros off Lewis, who is now 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA in six starts.
Lewis has a 1.42 ERA over his past three outings with opponents hitting .182 off him. He has also struck out 18 and walked five in his last 19 innings.
"I just think it is being healthy, being comfortable knowing my role and just feeling really relaxed," Lewis said.
Lewis missed 18 months while recovering from major elbow and hip surgeries. He returned to make 29 starts last season, but the improvement wasn't really noticeable until after the All-Star break. He has a 3.45 ERA in 19 starts since last year's break.
Lewis' fastball is still just 88-90 mph, but the location is pinpoint, and he has the sharp slider back. That was his out-pitch in 2010-11 when Lewis helped pitch the Rangers to two World Series. It also makes his changeup more effective.
"It's location too. ...I'm able to locate my other pitches," Lewis said. "Really I'm able to finish off my pitches better now. When you are able to change speeds off your fastball and throw all your other pitches for strikes, it is a good recipe for success."
Lewis is now 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA in five career starts at Minute Maid Park.