Keeping his pitches and pitch count low

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Harrison is no different than Derek Holland or even C.J. Wilson for that matter. When he fails to keep his pitches down, he falls behind in the count and into trouble.

And, unfortunately for Harrison, that's been the case in the postseason and why he doesn't have a start beyond five innings even though he's been the Rangers' most effective starter behind Colby Lewis.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington would like to get him into the sixth in today's pivotal Game 3 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark, but that will be up to Harrison.

"Definitely not walk three people each game," Harrison said, giving his key to staying in the game. "The first time was a little bit of jitters in the playoffs when I pitched against the Rays, but the Tigers have a good lineup. They had a lot of righties and they made me work a lot of deep counts. Hopefully, I can get some quicker outs this time, maybe put some more balls in the strike zone, but in a good spot in the strike zone and get some quicker outs."

Harrison proved his most resilient over the regular season and he had stints where he was near-dominant. In the postseason, he's walked six batters in 10 2/3 innings, again his major undoing. Opposing hitters are batting just .225 off him, second-best among the starters behind Lewis (.191) and he's the lone starter to allow fewer than 10 hits in the postseason (nine).

He'll face a string of Cardinals right-handed hitters that can take it to the gaps for extra bases or out of the park in Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Lance Berkman. Allen Craig, who tagged Alexi Ogando as pinch-hitter in each of the first two games will serve as the designated hitter.

Harrison managed to get out of jams in his two postseason starts with a sinker that induces ground balls. For much of the season, Harrison led the majors in groudball double plays until his teammate Wilson passed him late in the season. The Cardinals don't run particularly well and the DP-ball could be a significant weapon again.

"I think his sinker is his key pitch," Washington said. "He gets a lot of ground balls and he gets a lot of double plays when people get on the bag. But, he's also developed his secondary pitches, change-ups and his breaking ball. He can throw them at any time in the count. When you can do that, you can keep batters off-balance."

And, if he can avoid throwing too many of them, he might work his way deeper into Game 3 and give his chance to take a World Series lead for the first time in franchise history.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182