2010 SF Giants – Colby Lewis Throws The Game Of His Life

2010 SF Giants

The World Series can make heroes out of the unlikely. And it can also shine baseball’s brightest light on those who fail underneath the pressure.

Before the series started, Texas Rangers fans would’ve bet their hard earned money that Cliff Lee would’ve been their World Series hero before they would’ve guessed Colby Lewis. But baseball doesn’t exactly work that way.

If you watched the FOX broadcast, you heard Tim McCarver and Joe Buck talk about Lewis’ career as a pitcher in Japan, but they only gave you part of the story.

Colby Lewis was a first round draft pick for the Texas Rangers in 1999. He was one of their top pitching prospects and spent five seasons in the minors before getting a shot to start for the Rangers in 2003. He had a terrible season, starting 26 games and finishing the season with a 7.30 ERA. To show how meaningless win-loss records can be sometimes, he had a 10-9 record. The following year, he hurt his shoulder and only had three starts.

His biggest issue as a pro in his young career was the fact that he was put runners on base constantly with the base on balls. He averaged over six walks per nine innings.

After coming back from injury, he pitched for Detroit and Oakland, but had similar issues. My friend is a hardcore A’s fan and he doesn’t remember Lewis’ 2007 stint with the A’s. It’s hard to blame him. With the A’s, he had a 6.45 ERA and gave up seven home runs in just 37 and 2/3 innings.

Lewis could’ve repeated the AAA up to the big leagues and back down to AAA dance, but was a father for the first time and needed to make consistent money. He moved his family to Japan and signed with the Hiroshima Carp. In his two seasons with the Carp, he lead the Central League in strikeouts.

Rarely does a major league player go to Japan and come back to the US. Sometimes, you’ll see a hitter come back and have success like Cecil Fielder. But Lewis had options. He also needed the insurance of a major league contract and because his wife Jenny has Graves’ disease, getting insurance was a big issue as well.

Lewis signed with Texas again this year and while he didn’t make anyone forget Nolan Ryan, he had a good season. He had a 3.72 ERA and was in the top ten in the AL in strikeouts. More importantly, his walks were way down, cut in half from earlier in his career.

His postseason has been more impressive. In his only start in the ALDS, he shut down the Tampa Rays for five innings, giving up only two hits and no runs. In two starts against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, he went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA, including winning the clinching game six.

But he saved his best for his most recent. With the Rangers down 2-0 in the World Series, Lewis was handed the ball in a near must-win situation. Teams in the World Series have come back from being down 2-0, but not 3-0. He threw 7 and 2/3 innings, giving up only five hits and two runs on solo home runs. He walked two and struck out six.

He had Giants’ hitters off-balanced, mixing in a fantastic slider with his rather pedestrian fastball. When you have a pedestrian fastball, placement is key, and Lewis didn’t miss much.

On the flipside was Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez is the single most polarizing figure on the Giants’ team. When Good Sanchez has his game going, he looks among the elite pitchers in baseball. When Bad Sanchez rears his ugly head, you wonder how he is a professional big league pitcher.

His 2010 season pretty good if you look deep into the statistics. He led the NL in hits per nine innings given up with 6.6. He was third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.5. Giants fans know that it wasn’t all coming up roses either. He led the NL in walks with 96.

In Sanchez’s biggest regular season game, he was the starting pitcher when the Giants clinched the NL West. In his first postseason start against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, he was at his best. He threw 7 and 1/3 innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out eleven in a game the Giants would win.

But in his last two postseason starts, Bad Sanchez has come out in full force. In game six of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies, he imploded. Already struggling after just two innings, he hit Chase Utley with a breaking pitch on his upper back and Utley tossed the ball back to him nonchalantly. Sanchez couldn’t compose himself after being shown up and they had to take him out of the game. Once he left the game, the team came together and came back to win it and clinch their spot in the World Series.

He was handed the ball to start game three, the first World Series home-game in Rangers’ history. It was going to be a raucous crowd. And if you guessed that Bad Sanchez was the one who showed up, you’d be right.

Sanchez gave up a three-run home run to the number nine hitter Mitch Moreland in the second inning and then a majestic blast to Josh Hamilton in the fourth. One batter later, he was done for the night.

Sanchez’s fastball never reached 90MPH and he couldn’t control his breaking ball. After the game, pitching coach Dave Righetti seemed worried that Sanchez’s problems were more because of arm fatigue than anything else. Sanchez has thrown over 213 innings this year, 50 more than he’s every thrown in a season before.

If this series goes seven games, you’ll have the Hiroshima Carp’s own Colby Lewis facing an arm fatigued Jonathan Sanchez in game seven. The Giants better hope that they wrap up the series before then.

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