Rain won't dampen Lewis' readiness for Game 6

Rain won't dampen Lewis' readiness for Game 6

Rain won't dampen Lewis' readiness for Game 6
ST. LOUIS -- Colby Lewis clearly wore his "game face" on Wednesday. All he has to do is maintain that attitude for another 24 hours.

Having addressed the media on Tuesday, Lewis displayed little desire to elaborate on his scheduled start for the Texas Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series, which was postponed until Thursday due to reports of inclement weather. Entering the visitors' clubhouse at Busch Stadium following a brief workout, Lewis essentially shooed away reporters by growling, "I did the same thing today that I did yesterday. Nothing changes."

However, Lewis' performance historically has varied, depending on the rest he receives between starts. Receiving another off-day could benefit him, depending on which statistics one prefers to emphasize.

Working with at least six days' rest -- the interval that will separate Game 6 from Lewis' Game 2 outing last Thursday -- he has posted a 10-6 record with a 4.70 ERA, a .269 opponents' batting average and a 1.396 WHIP (walks and hits per inning) throughout his career. Lewis' results have been similar with a four-day break, though he has received more decisions (20-17, 4.65 ERA, .257 opponents' batting average and a 1.380 WHIP). Oddly, Lewis hasn't fared well during his career with five days between starts (7-12, 5.93, .269 opponents' average, 1.449 WHIP).

Tale of the Tape: Game 6
2011 Regular Season
Overall: 32 GS, 14-10, 4.40 ERA, 56 BB, 169 K
Overall: 32 GS, 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 50 BB, 156 K
Key stat: 5.54 ERA in 15 home starts; 3.43 ERA in 17 road starts
Key stat: Two shutouts (tied 2nd most in NL)
At Busch Stadium
2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 1.34 ERA (Game 2)
Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 1.34 ERA
2011: 18 GS, 9-5, 2.44 ERA
Career: 33 GS, 16-10, 2.33 ERA
Against this opponent
2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 1.34 ERA
Career: 2 G (1 GS), 0-1, 5.86 ERA
2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA (Game 2)
Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA (7 IP)
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA in seven career postseason starts
Why he'll win: 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA in his last six home starts
Pitcher beware: Hasn't thrown a pitch while leading since fourth inning of ALDS Game 3
Pitcher beware: Despite solid Game 2 outing, still winless in the postseason
Bottom line: Add to postseason success
Bottom line: First postseason 'W' awaits
This season, Lewis had an inflated 5.00 ERA with at least six days' rest. But his other numbers under those conditions were decent, including a 4-2 record with an opponents' batting average of .236 and a 1.167 WHIP. His record and ERA were best with five days' rest (5-2, 3.83). But he recorded a 1.278 WHIP and opponents hit .243 off him in those situations. With a normal four days' rest, Lewis was 5-6 with a 4.50 ERA. He yielded a .247 average and sported a 1.194 WHIP.

Mike Napoli, Lewis' likely batterymate, believes in the right-hander under any circumstance.

"We have all the confidence in the world in Colby," Napoli said. "I look for him to go out and do what he does. We like playing defense behind him. He works quickly. He attacks the strike zone and he's confident. We expect great things out of him."

Indeed, Lewis has consistently delivered elevated efforts in October. He's 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

"Some guys flip a switch when postseason comes," Napoli said.

Moreover, Lewis has distinguished himself in his pair of World Series outings. He recorded Texas' lone Series victory last year, working 7 2/3 innings in the Rangers' 4-2 triumph over the Giants in Game 3. He also thrived in St. Louis in Game 2 last Thursday, surrendering one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings as Texas proceeded to win, 2-1.

Texas manager Ron Washington explained Lewis' proficiency by citing his self-assurance.

"He totally believes in what he's trying to do out there," Washington said. "He never gets away from what he does best. That's mainly the key right there. ... Colby never doubts what he's capable of doing, and I think that's what [sets] him apart from some guys at this stage."

Rangers president Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame right-hander who knows a thing or two about pitching excellence, closely echoed Washington.

"I think that when he gets in the postseason, he gets really focused," Ryan said. "I think he's extremely prepared and knows what he wants to do, and he sticks to his game plan. I know Colby well enough now [that] when he makes a pitch and he doesn't get it, I can see it. I can read it through his body language, but he does not let that carry over to the next pitch."

Lewis has followed that process more closely on the road, where he finished 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA during the regular season. By comparison, he was 5-5 with a 5.54 ERA at home.

So if anybody can turn Busch Stadium's pitcher's mound into a retreat on Thursday night with the Rangers needing one victory to claim baseball's biggest prize for the first time in franchise history, he can.

Lewis' background has endured adversity, having undergone right rotator-cuff surgery in May 2004. He knows humility, having fallen from phenom status in a few short years after the Rangers selected him as a compensatory pick (38th overall) in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. And he has displayed persistence, pitching for two years in Japan (2008-09) to sustain his professional career.

Lewis doesn't throw hard. He owns a lifetime 38-38 regular-season record with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. None of that is overly impressive.

But he's comfortable with who he is -- which, based on his remarks on Tuesday, means being just a regular guy.

"I think the biggest thing is ... enjoying every moment of it, enjoying still having the opportunity to get the ball every five days, to go out and pitch, to perform, to make your family proud," Lewis said. "I think a big key for me is just knowing that my family is happy for me, but I'm doing something that my kids are going to appreciate."

And Lewis has learned that a pitcher can perform extraordinary deeds with ordinary stuff.

Said Lewis: "I mean, you can't say, 'I'm going to throw the ball 95 mph' when I don't, you know? Even though [with] the extra adrenaline and everything else, it feels like you can throw the ball harder, but you don't."

Lewis doesn't allow the atmosphere of a big game to overwhelm him. Instead of shrinking from the challenge of working under adverse conditions, he embraces it.

"I think [you try] to harness those emotions, the adrenaline, the extra noise, the crowd and everything, and just kind of stick to what you've been doing all year long and stay with the same approach," Lewis said. "You can't really worry about your what-ifs or anything like that. You just focus on the one pitch that you have at hand and do it."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.