video thumbnail

Must C Colby: Lewis makes sensational play with glove

ATLANTA -- The pitching was solid from Colby Lewis through three relievers and the offense finally came through with some huge hits from the middle of the order. But the defense? That bordered on acrobatic.

"The Texas Globetrotters?" second baseman Ian Kinsler said with a smile. "We can live with that as long we get the out."

What the Rangers really needed was a victory and they got it, snapping a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Braves at Turner Field on Friday night. The Rangers had also lost eight of their last 10 before knocking off the National League's Wild Card leader in their home ballpark.

"We played a good defensive game ... it's good to get back to our style of baseball," first baseman Michael Young said. "We pitched well, timely hitting with some good solid at-bats and we played good defense ... a good all-around game."

Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz led the offense, combing to drive in all six runs. Hamilton, who had four hits and three RBIs, hit his fourth home run of the year with a two-run shot off Braves starter Randall Delgado, who was making his Major League debut, to break a 1-1 tie in the fifth. Cruz drove in three runs with a pair of doubles after coming into the game with two hits in his last 29 at-bats.

Lewis was coming off two terrible outings, having been clobbered for 15 runs in 42/3 combined innings. But on Friday night, he allowed two runs in 62/3 innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out 10. He threw a season-high 119 pitches and the only two runs came on solo home runs.

"My fastball was down in the zone," Lewis said. "When I did miss up, they didn't expect it. But my fastball was down in the zone the majority of the time."

He also had one of three memorable defensive plays that are serious contenders for anybody's highlight reel. Adrian Beltre and Kinsler chipped in with the other two.

"Even their catcher, all of their position players are really, really athletic," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We knew that going in with the advance reports we got. We knew they run the bases well and are a real athletic team and 1-8, they give you pretty good at-bats."

The Rangers scored four in the fifth to take a 5-1 lead. Lewis was working on a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth when Jason Heyward hit a roller up the first-base line that got about halfway to the bag before it started to die. Lewis got over there with just enough time to swipe at the ball with his mitt, get it into the webbing and, without using his barehand, make a terrific backhanded shovel throw to Young for the out.

"I've never seen anything like that in my entire Major League career," Young said.

"That was the only way he could have gotten the out," manager Ron Washington said.

Lewis said he made a similar play in Japan a few years ago.

"I know there wasn't going to be a play otherwise," Lewis said. "I know that if I miss, there is nobody else on base who was going to advance. It was a shot you take and it worked out really well."

A home run by Freddie Freeman made it 5-2 with one out in the sixth and Lewis walked Alex Gonzalez. Eric Hinske then hit a sky-high popup well down the left-field line. Cruz, playing left field, had no chance at it. Shortstop Elvis Andrus, playing Hinske up the middle, didn't even try.

But Beltre raced back and, after covering some serious ground, made a terrific over-the-head, back-to-home catch.

"I didn't think he had a chance," Kinsler said.

"I've never seen a third baseman go that far down the line to get a ball," Washington said. "It seems like everything we did on defense was huge. You never know what might have happened."

The other unusual defensive play by Texas came with a runner on first and two out in the seventh. Arthur Rhodes had just replaced Lewis and got Heyward to hit a grounder at Beltre. He threw to second but Jordan Schafer, Atlanta's leadoff hitter, was beating Kinsler to the bag. Kinsler took the throw well off the base and had the presence of mind to throw quickly to first to just get Heyward.

"That was a weird play," Kinsler said. "That's the first time I've been in a 5-4-3 just to get an out at first. Usually we communicate before the play: throw it to first. But it worked out well."

MLB.com Comments