SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Colby Lewis couldn’t help but look ahead to Opening Day even as he brought Cactus League play to an end.
“Four years ago if you’d asked me if I was going to start Opening Day in the big leagues, I’d have said that was crazy,” said Lewis, who gave up two runs in four innings in the Texas Rangers’ 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Lewis was the 38th pick overall in 1999 by the Rangers and made his debut three years later. A rotator cuff injury brought his first turn with Texas to an end and he spent the next three seasons between the Detroit, Washington and Oakland systems.
He signed with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and pitched two seasons in Japan before he was brought back across the Pacific by the Rangers in 2010. Since then, he has gone 26-23 in 64 starts and has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past two seasons.
With C.J. Wilson leaving for the Los Angeles Angels, Lewis became the de facto ace of the Texas staff.
“I feel very blessed. I feel blessed to have a beautiful family that backs me and supports me,” Lewis said. “That’s a big key to my success.”
Lewis gave up only one hit over the first three innings, but San Diego put together four straight hits to score twice in the fourth. He finished with four strikeouts, a walk and a hit batter.
After starting spring training with three wins in their first 14 games, the Rangers won seven of their last eight in Arizona.
“We’re playing baseball the way we like at the right time,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “It’s not how you start it’s how you finish and we finished the way we wanted, playing good baseball.”
Cory Luebke had his second straight rough outing against the Rangers, allowing five runs on six hits over two innings. Luebke walked two and struck out three.
On March 27, Luebke also gave up five runs but on eight hits and a walk in 4 1-3 innings against Texas.
“I wanted to work on getting in on the righties today but as the results show I didn’t quite get in far enough,” Luebke said. “I just wasn’t executing my pitches today. That was the bottom line.”
Washington played the majority of his starters long enough to get two at-bats and then subbed in minor leaguers across the board.
Elvis Andrus singled, walked and scored twice, and Adrian Beltre had two hits, including a double, and drove in a pair for Texas. David Murphy added a two-run single for the Rangers.
Jesus Guzman hit his fifth home run, a towering drive to straightaway right field, in the fourth for San Diego.
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