In Game 2, Rangers turn to playoff ace … Colby Lewis?

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ST. LOUIS — All the talk about bad starting pitching from these two World Series teams — and the numbers to back it up — has taken the focus away from the hottest starting pitcher in the last two postseasons.

Who’s that, you’re thinking?

Colby Lewis, that’s who.

The Rangers’ Game 2 starter is the only starting pitcher on either team other than Chris Carpenter to do much this postseason. He delivered a gem in a crucial ALDS Game 3 in Tampa: One hit allowed, two walks, six strikeouts in a 4-3 Rangers victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead.

Lewis’  ALCS start in Detroit wasn’t nearly as good — but it wasn’t terrible either.

He trailed Doug Fister 2-0 in the sixth inning before giving up a solo homer and an RBI single and leaving with four runs and eights hits allowed — along with six strikeouts — in 5.2 innings.

That was Lewis’ first loss in six starts over the last two postseasons, and left him with this line: 4-1, 2.37, 38 IP, 25 hits, 36 strikeouts. Who needs to spend a boatload of cash to re-sign Cliff Lee when you’ve get those kind of numbers from one of your starters?

“It’s kind of all or nothing,” Lewis said of his postseason mind-set. “You go out there, and you don’t know if you’re going to get the ball again. You let it all hang out, and whatever happens, happens. You can’t worry about the what-ifs.”

The fact that Lewis will be making his third road start on Thursday in St. Louis also is no coincidence. He’s been far better on the road this season (9-5, 3.43) than at Rangers Ballpark (5-5, 5.54).

“Weather, stadiums, everything — you just adapt to it, and go have fun,” Lewis said.

Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a regular columnist for NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll contribute to HardballTalk.com during the World Series.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.