Rangers rely on Lewis in opener with Rays

( - It's certainly not 2010-2011 anymore for the Texas Rangers.

The free-falling Rangers, though, can get a glimpse of their once dominant pedigree on Monday when right-hander Colby Lewis takes the mound for the opening test of a four-game series against Tampa Bay on Monday night at Globe Life Park.

Lewis was a 32-start mainstay for the Rangers in each of their two American League championship seasons -- both of which ended in defeat in the World Series -- but hasn't been the same commodity since needing ligament- replacement surgery in his elbow for the second time in July 2012.

He was shelved for all of 2013 and struggled to regain form through July 10 of this season, when he was bombed for 13 runs and had an overall earned run average of 6.54 after a loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Lewis has woke up the echoes in four starts since, however, splitting four decisions while maintaining a 2.30 ERA. In his last start on Tuesday, he tossed the second shutout of his career while allowing just six hits in a 16-0 rout of the Chicago White Sox.

"Colby Lewis was the show," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I mean, he executed his pitches as well I have seen see him execute them. He never lost focus. He looked like the Colby we used to know."

Lewis takes the mound against Tampa Bay's Drew Smyly, who starts for the second time since coming over from Detroit in the trade deadline deal that cost the Rays their ace, David Price.

Smyly threw 107 pitches in just 5 1/3 innings of a 3-0 loss on Tuesday against Oakland.

"I think I'm real comfortable around everybody," Smyly said. "(I hope) we can go to Texas and get some wins."

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon saw encouraging signs in the forgettable debut.

"I thought he made good pitches when he had to," Maddon said. "I thought he and (catcher Curt) Casali worked well together. I thought, for a first time out, it was pretty darn good."

Smyly pitched six innings against the Rangers while downing them, 8-2, with the Tigers on June 24 and is 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in eight career meetings, which include three starts and five relief appearances.

The Rays, who last played in Texas last September, when they won a one-game playoff to earn the American League's second wild card playoff spot, took two of three from the Rangers earlier this season.