Cool hand Lewis: Ranger ready for Game 3

Right-hander has postseason experience, doesn't get rattled

Cool hand Lewis: Ranger ready for Game 3

TORONTO -- All the clichés surrounding the Rangers' predicament in the American League Division Series aren't likely to faze Colby Lewis.

The Rangers, down 2-0 in the ALDS, will be in win-or-go-home mode for Game 3 on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT on TBS in the United States and Sportsnet (English) and TVA (French) in Canada. The game will also be broadcast in Spanish on MLB Network) at Rogers Centre, but Lewis has been through too much in his career to let that get to him.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 TOR 10, TEX 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 TOR 5 TEX 3 video
Gm 3 Oct. 9 TOR 7, TEX 6 (10) video

"I don't feel like it's a burden," Lewis said. "I feel like it's an opportunity. Anytime I talk to young kids or anything like that, it's about opportunity. Just like going to Japan or anything like that in my career, I feel like it's an opportunity for me to go out, perform, see what I can do, embrace it. So there's no extra pressure or anything."

Lewis will be facing Blue Jays 15-game winner Aaron Sanchez on Sunday.

"I feel like it's baseball," Lewis said. "It's something that I have done since I was 5 years old. I just go out there and enjoy it."

Lewis has been on this stage before and thrived. He made eight starts for the Rangers in the postseason in 2010-11 and was 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA.

"He has been the best pitcher for this franchise in the postseason," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We feel really good seeing Colby on the mound. He's done this before. He'll be calm."

Lewis on postseason experience

Lewis' last start in the postseason was the ill-fated Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. His only postseason appearance since then was three innings in long relief last year when the Rangers lost to the Blue Jays, 8-4, in Game 4 of the ALDS. Derek Holland started that game, as Lewis was left out of the Rangers' rotation for the series despite being a 17-game winner and having a history of postseason success.

"Like I said last year, I felt like in whatever the team aspect they wanted to put me in, if I got put in the bullpen, it is what it is," Lewis said. "I wanted to contribute. I wanted to be on the roster. I'm fortunate enough this year to get the ball tomorrow."

Lewis didn't have the complete season in 2016 that he did last year, when he made 33 starts and pitched 204 2/3 innings. Lewis was 6-1 with a 3.21 ERA in his first 15 starts this year before going down in late June with a strained muscle in the back of his right shoulder. He didn't return to the rotation until Sept. 11, and Lewis was 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA in his last four starts.

"I feel really good," Lewis said. "I felt each start I've gone out and accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish. The last one was going over 100 pitches and felt really, really good. The last two times out everything was fresh. So, yeah, I wouldn't take it any other way. I feel like I made all the leaps and bounds that I needed to make to be ready."

Lewis retires Davis

This is a guy who has had an incredible journey in his career, going back to when he was in high school in Bakersfield, Calif., and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He was the Rangers' top Draft pick in 1999, but his big league career never took off, and by 2008, he had to go pitch in Japan.

He was outstanding there and for the Rangers in 2010-11, but then came flexor tendon surgery in 2012 and a hip replacement in '13. The hip surgery was unprecedented for a Major League pitcher.

This past offseason he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee. Lewis was a free agent, and even though he had won 17 games for the Rangers, teams were reluctant to get seriously involved with him.

"I was a free agent and got a bunch of different phone calls, but not a lot of offers out there," Lewis said. "There were 13-14 teams interested, about half the league, but they didn't know how I would recover from the repair."

Even Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was nervous about it and told Lewis that on the phone. Lewis had a quick response.

"That's when I told him, 'The hip replacement surgery, you mean you weren't nervous about that three years ago?'" Lewis said.

The Rangers signed him to a one-year contract and he will be a free agent again this winter for the fifth straight offseason. That doesn't bother him. Lewis has been through too much to let anything bother him, and that's why the Rangers feel confident with him on the mound Sunday night.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.