A built-in excuse was at the ready Sunday afternoon if Colby Lewis wanted it.
The right-hander was making his second start since coming off the disabled list, where he spent 10 weeks. He probably came back a bit sooner than he would have had it been June instead of September.
His stuff isn’t as sharp as it will be after a few more starts. All those pitches he threw out of the strike zone against the Oakland A’s will start going where he wants them with more repetition.
But Lewis doesn’t make excuses, and he shouldered all the blame for a 5-2 loss that left the Rangers’ magic number at 5 with 12 games remaining in the regular season.
“I sucked,” he said.
Lewis allowed only three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but he walked five batters for the first time since 2014. Considering how Cole Hamels (six earned runs in six innings) and Yu Darvish (seven earned runs in five innings) pitched Friday and Saturday, Lewis was wildly effective.
He was also wildly displeased.
I walked five guys. That’s uncalled for. That loss is definitely on my back, and I take full responsibility for it.
Right-hander Colby Lewis
Lewis allowed a home run to Khris Davis to start the fourth but entered the sixth having allowed only two hits and with a 2-1 lead. Lewis was at 72 pitches.
But he walked Danny Valencia to start the inning, allowed a bloop single to Ryon Healy and then walked Davis to load the bases. After getting Yonder Alonso on a soft liner to shortstop Elvis Andrus, Lewis walked Marcus Semien to force in the tying run.
Alex Claudio allowed one of the runners he inherited to score. Davis connected off Keone Kela in the eighth for a two-run shot, giving him 10 homers this season against the Rangers.
No opponent has ever hit more in a season against the Rangers.
Solo home runs don’t bother Lewis. Walks do.
“I walked five guys. That’s uncalled for,” said Lewis, who is 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA since coming off the DL. “That loss is definitely on my back, and I take full responsibility for it. I’ve got to go out and do a better job than that.
“I’m on a big-league stage, and I’ve got a responsibility to deal regardless of my situation. If I do my job, then we’re having a different conversation.”
Lewis walked five batters for the first time since Aug. 25, 2014, against the A’s and for only the fourth time since he returned from Japan in 2010. He had beaten Oakland in five straight starts.
His expectation is that he will fix whatever ailed him against the A’s in time for the postseason, and manager Jeff Banister remains confident in Lewis. Banister acknowledged that Lewis is still honing things after the long layoff.
16 Earned runs allowed by Cole Hamels (6), Yu Darvish (7) and Colby Lewis (3) against the A’s
“Obviously, we know the body of work and what he does. He’s normally a tremendous strike thrower,” Banister said. “Just chalk that one up as a guy that’s still working his way back a little bit. I feel confident that Colby’s healthy, and I feel confident that he’s going to get things locked in and be a quality pitcher for us.”
The Rangers scored the game’s first two runs in the third inning, when Delino DeShields drove in Robinson Chirinos with one out and Ian Desmond followed two batters later with an infield single to score DeShields.
The rally was cut short, though, when Carlos Gomez was thrown out at home trying to score from third on a shallow fly ball to right field.
Oakland’s outfield came up big again in the fifth, when center fielder Brett Eibner raced back and dived to catch an Adrian Beltre liner that looked to be headed to the wall. The Rangers score two if Eibner doesn’t make that play.
The Rangers had another chance in the sixth, but Nomar Mazara struck out as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and two outs.
“I thought that ball was going to go over his head, but he made a great catch,” Beltre said. “Could have been the difference in the game right there, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Beltre said that he needs to do better. Lewis, though, refused to let anyone else take the blame.
“It’s on me,” he said. “It was junk. It was six innings of junk.”