Last night's game is parked nearly 20 hours away in our collective rear-view mirror by now, and with that being the case, I can't see too much point in expending a whole bunch of words on a blowout win where just about everything that could have possibly gone right did go right. I did want to share a few quick observations, however:
● Colby Lewis flirted with perfection for a little while last night, and ended up tossing a complete-game gem that further solidified his MLB-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 74-to-11. You might, however, take notice of his rather pedestrian 4.12 FIP relative to a far more 3.13 ERA on the year, and wonder why there's such a large dichotomy between the two ratios ... the thing about Lewis is that his FIP, which is driven by walks, strikeouts, homers, and (to a lesser extent) innings pitched), is still being jacked to hell by his north-of-1.5 HR/9 rate, and while that does hurt his ERA, the homers hurt a lot less when your opposition is hitting you at a substandard rate (.262 BABIP) and you're walking fewer batters per nine innings than any other starting pitcher in the league.
The other thing about this disparity, of course, is that it's somewhat deceiving, because the ERA statistic effectively masks all of the bad pitching/results that might follow after an error in a given inning -- even if the error was committed by the pitcher himself. Almost a month ago, Lewis yielded four first-inning runs that were all classified as unearned because the run-scoring rally in question was facilitated by his own throwing error. Lewis has also allowed twice as many unearned runs this year as the league-average rate, and that isn't completely his fault ... but ERA voids the pitcher of all responsibility for whatever might transpire after an error, and we all know that this isn't what actually happens.
I was in attendance up at last night's Double-A Frisco/Midland tilt for Roy Oswalt's latest tune-up start, and I pretty much concur with Gil LeBreton's account of Oswalt's performance -- okayish, but not all there yet. He never established any perceptible feel or command for the curveball, which he often buried so far into the dirt that Midland's hitters were given no reason to swing, and the fastball (consistently in the 91-92 mph range on the Frisco gun) was cracked with authority when he missed up in the zone. Oswalt declared that it was his worst effort stuff-wise this year, and I concur with that sentiment from my perspective behind the first base dugout; he did make it to the 85-pitch mark, so he's almost at that point where he'll be stretched out enough to pitch in the majors, but he won't be ready in four days, and he may even require one more minor league start on top of that.
● Nelson Cruz is out yet again tonight with a virus of some sort, and while he's reported to be available for pinch-hitting duties if necessary, this is just the latest instance of confirmed illness in the clubhouse, with the list of afflicted players now up near half a dozen for the season (not including those players who elected not to disclose their illness to the probing media horde, as we tend to see sometimes. This could be a case of my own memory failing me, but this strikes me as one of the more severe outbreaks of illness to hit the Rangers' clubhouse in quite a few years, and, while not making excuses for anyone, I wonder how much that has factored into the general perception of the Rangers playing what has looked like a very lethargic and uninspired brand of baseball at times over the last few months.