Colby Lewis isn’t retiring, at least not yet. The 37-year-old starting pitcher, drafted by the Rangers in 1999, is still looking for work this season, but he recognizes the glut of starting pitchers the Rangers have amassed ahead of spring training. Lewis knows that his time in Arlington, stretched over 10 seasons and two separate stints with the Rangers, is over, so he said goodbye Tuesday.
“Saying goodbye after all this time seems an impossible task,” Lewis said in a prepared statement. “I’m filled with so many emotions. Texas has turned into our second home, and the people we have met over our 10 seasons here have turned from friends to family.”
After being picked by the Rangers with the 38th pick in the 1999 draft, Lewis initially bounced around the majors, stopping in Detroit and Oakland in addition to Texas, before heading to pitch in Japan following the 2007 season. In 2010 Lewis returned to Arlington with a much-improved slider, hoping to help the Rangers improve on an 87-win second-place finish in 2009.
Lewis started and won the Rangers’ fourth game that year, beating the Mariners 6-2 on the season’s first Friday night and continued to eat innings as the Rangers marched to their first American League West championship since 1999. He finished the regular season with a 12-13 record that undersold his steadying influence on the back of the Rangers’ rotation.
Then came the 2010 playoffs.
After riding Cliff Lee to a 3-2 series victory against the Tampa Bay Rays, with each of their wins coming in Florida, the Rangers imploded in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, throwing away a 5-0 lead in the game’s last three innings. For a franchise, that, to that point, had yet to win a home playoff game, it felt like an inevitable result. The Rangers, faced with a 2 p.m. first pitch the next day, seemed to be in trouble. Lewis made sure they weren’t.
Pitching without his best stuff, Lewis held on for 5 2/3 innings as the Rangers built a 7-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish, departing to a standing ovation. Six days later, the Rangers and Yankees returned to Arlington for Game 6 with the Rangers ahead in the series 3-2, setting Lewis to win the biggest game in Rangers history.
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Lewis twirled eight sparkling innings that night against the Yankees, striking out seven and giving up a single run before giving way to closer Neftali Feliz. Feliz slammed the door on the Yankees, and the Rangers won the team’s first ever American League pennant.
The Rangers lost the World Series — with Lewis picking up the team’s only win against the Giants in Game 3 — and the next one, too.
Beginning in 2012, Lewis struggled with multiple injuries but continued to provide value for the Rangers; as late as June 2016, he pitched eight no-hit innings in Oakland on his way to a complete game two-hitter.
As he departs, Lewis is fourth in team history with 194 games started, sixth with 77 regular season wins, fifth in strikeouts with 933 and sixth in innings pitched with 1174 1/3. Most importantly, he is first in Rangers history in postseason wins with four.