Spring Training -Texas Rangers - Colby Lewis

Colby Lewis succeeds because of family, not despite it


Craig has been all over the Richie Whitt-Colby Lewis story, rightly pointing out the absurdity of the whole thing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this story, the writer (Whitt) thinks that the Rangers pitcher (Lewis) should be ashamed of himself for missing a start to witness the birth of his child because …

(a) It’s Lewis’ second child, making it somehow less important.

(b) And Lewis for some reason owes the fans and his team more than he does his family.

I agree with everything Craig has written on the topic, but would also like to add a bit of insight I gained by sitting down with Lewis for an interview at spring training. I spoke to Lewis as part of a feature package I wrote on the difficulties of making it to the majors. Lewis talked at length of his own journey, including the injuries he endured along the way, and his two-year detour to professional baseball in Japan.

During our talk, he frequently sprinkled in references to his family, some of which did not make it into my story. He mentioned how in the spring of 2007, the Washington Nationals released him on the day his son was born. He said that was a blessing, however, because Oakland signed him a few days later and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento, near his Bakersfield, Calif. home.

He also spoke about how lucky he was that his wife, Jenny, and son could accompany him to Japan, and how important it has been to have her support. And Lewis said this about how much family means to him:

“(It changes things) when you have a baby you have to support now. It’s something that clicked for me and took over my life. It’s a blessing. It kept me a lot more focused on the task of what I wanted to do.”

Richie Whitt says he doesn’t care if Lewis is a good dad, he just wants him to be a good pitcher. But those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Lewis not only understands that, he claims that having a family made him a better pitcher and made him happier.

That’s what should matter most.

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There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.