Thoughts: Rangers combine on 1-hitter

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers had a combined no-hitter for 8 1/3 innings on Monday only to see it go away when three-time batting champ Joe Mauer got a single up the middle against closer Neftali Feliz. Rich Harden, Matt Harrison and Darren O'Day no-hit the Twins for eight innings. The Rangers won the game, 4-0. Some thoughts:

* Sept. 3, 2002, at Baltimore was the last one-hitter for the Rangers. This was the 22nd in franchise history.

* The last combined no-hitter in the majors was pitched by the Astros over the Yankees in Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003.

* Harden didn't give up a hit in 6 2/3 innings. Yet after 111 pitches and a four-pitch walk to Michael Cuddyer, he was done. He had five walks and six strikeouts. He pitched in and out of some jams and had a bunch of 3-2 counts, but did what he needed to do to keep his team in it. It was an improvement over his last start.

* I'll talk more about this later, but I thought Ron Washington made the right decision to take Harden out. You have to do what you feel is best to win the game and at the same time protect Harden (who was coming off the DL with shoulder issues). Harrison came in to make it a lefty-lefty matchup with Jim Thome.

* Harden started the game by falling behind to the first two hitters, 3-0. In many of his starts this season, that would have meant two walks and a long first inning. Instead, he fought back to 3-2 counts and got Denard Span and Orlando Hudson to fly out to center. Maybe it was a good omen.

* Harden pitched out of a jam in the fourth. He walked two batters and had two on and one out with Nos. 4-5 hitters Jason Kubel and Cuddyer up. Harden got Kubel to fly out (fell behind 2-0, had a chat with pitching coach Mike Maddux and then went 2-2 before getting him) and struck out Cuddyer on a nice fastball on the outside corner.

* Some big two-out hits and hustle from the Rangers in the first. Josh Hamilton hit a slow roller to second and Orlando Hudson had no shot to get Hamilton, who made a headfirst slide to first. Vladimir Guerrero then hit one right up the middle that was gloved behind the bag by J.J. Hardy, but with no chance to get anyone. David Murphy then worked a 3-1 count and hit a ball to straightaway center and off the top of the wall for a two-RBI triple.

* Umpires went to video replay to confirm that Murphy hit a triple after Washington asked for the crew to have a look. Replays clearly showed it hit off the top of the padding on the wall and came back into play.

* The Rangers tried a hit-and-run in the second inning with Mitch Moreland at first and Andres Blanco at the plate, and the Twins called a well-timed pitch out. Blanco tried to swing at the pitch anyway but couldn't reach it, and Moreland was thrown out at second.

* Texas got its third run in the fifth inning thanks to a bad throw from shortstop Hardy and a good takeout slide by Elvis Andrus. Hardy got a ground ball from Michael Young, stepped on second for the force and then rushed the throw to first, one-hopping it near the dugout. Hardy didn't have to rush, but he did. And Andrus got his hands up in the air and may have distracted or impacted Hardy enough to help draw the bad throw. That broke up a possible inning-ending double play and allowed Julio Borbon to score from third.

* Harrison threw hard and with purpose to his lone batter, Thome, in the seventh. He got him to fly out.

* Until Mauer's single, O'Day gave up the closest thing to a hit as Delmon Young grounded to first and Moreland had to make a quick play and throw to O'Day covering. O'Day then struck out Danny Valencia and Hardy to end the eighth inning.

* Feliz came out to close the game despite a non-save situation, as he was warming up and the Rangers scored an additional run in the ninth. Hamilton hit a sac fly to score Andrus to make it 4-0.