Lewis' early struggles cost Rangers in loss

Lewis' early struggles cost Rangers in loss

Lewis' early struggles cost Rangers in loss
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers made better fielding from their pitchers one of their top priorities in Spring Training, and so far it has paid off. The critical error made by pitcher Colby Lewis in the first inning on Tuesday night had little to do with a lack of emphasis or practice.

"He's had those plays before and executed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't execute it. That one just got away from him."

So did the first inning. Lewis, because of his throwing error, gave up four runs in the first, and the Rangers never fully recovered, losing to the Royals, 7-4, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Royals came into the series with the second-worst record in the American League and took two from the Rangers.

"It's two games ... who cares?" said Lewis after committing two crucial throwing errors. "Two games is not even really a series. I don't know what you would call it. We're not worried about it. We're a good team. We'll bounce back from it."

The Royals, who have won 12 of their last 18 games since a 12-game losing streak, had the Rangers down, 6-0, after three innings and never let them completely back in it.

"They just beat us," infielder Michael Young said. "We didn't play our best baseball. We came up short for two days. We'll come back ready to go tomorrow -- show up tomorrow and play hard. It's not really in our DNA to sit there and think of a reason to sit back and think of what went wrong. We'll come back and play hard and hope things go our way."

The loss, though, was the third straight for Lewis, and he has allowed 19 runs in his last 19 1/3 innings after allowing seven total runs in five starts in April. He is 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA on the season.

"They're losses, that's what I basically chalk it up to," Lewis said. "Tonight could have gone differently. My last start was weird. I can't be worried about it."

Lewis allowed just five hits in his last start and all were home runs. That's what was so weird about that start. The strange part on Tuesday night were two throwing errors. Rangers pitchers had made just one error prior to Tuesday night and that was by Derek Holland on a pickoff attempt in the second game of the season.

The two errant throws by Lewis cost him five unearned runs. The Rangers entered the game having allowed 13 unearned runs on the season, tied for the third most in the league.

"We didn't play our best baseball the last couple of games, but this team makes quick adjustments," Young said.

Jarrod Dyson started the first inning for the Royals with a double off the right-field wall. Eric Hosmer followed with a grounder back to the mound. Lewis grabbed it, looked the runner back to second and flipped the ball to first. He badly overthrew first baseman Mitch Moreland, allowing Dyson to go to third while Hosmer went to second.

"I checked the runner and told myself to make a nice easy throw ... and it was too long," Lewis said.

"We've done that drill a thousand times, and pitchers still keep throwing it away," Washington said. "Not just my guys. I wish I knew why. If I knew, we would fix it."

Billy Butler followed with a grounder at shortstop Alberto Gonzalez, who threw to third to get Hosmer while Dyson scored. Lewis then retired Alex Gordon on a fly to center, leaving him one out away from getting out of the inning with just one run scored.

Instead Jeff Francoeur doubled to left and Mike Moustakas walked to load the bases. Brayan Pena then singled to right to drive home two runs, and Chris Getz singled to center to make it 4-0.

"Regardless of what happened, I've still got to keep making pitches," Lewis said. "I felt I made some good pitches, but they made contact and hit it where the defenders weren't. That's the way the game goes."

Dyson got the Rangers started in the second with a leadoff single. With one out, he went to second on Lewis' wild pickoff throw and scored on a double by Butler. Moustakas' home run made it 6-0 in the third.

The Rangers tried to come back, scoring two in the fourth off Royals starter Vin Mazzaro. Josh Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a leadoff single and scored on David Murphy's one-out double. Moreland made it 6-2 with a two-out single. Ian Kinsler picked up a run for the Rangers in the fifth when he led off with a single, stole second and third and scored on Hamilton's sacrifice fly.

That seemed to give the Rangers some hope, and Lewis retired 11 of 12 batters after the Moustakas home run. But he walked Dyson with two outs in the sixth, and Homser followed with a double to left to bring him home. The Rangers' comeback stalled at that point.

"Two or three runs down doesn't seem like much, but you get four down and it's a bit much," Washington said. "Looking back, I wish Colby had made that play or made a better pickoff throw."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.