Reaction: Matt Harrison solid, Joe Nathan struggles
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Matt Harrison was pleased with his outing, albeit in a 6-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners, after allowing one run on three hits in three innings.
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Third baseman Vinnie Catricala led off the third inning against Harrison and was down 0-2 in the count after swinging late on a 95-mph fastball. Rather than going back to the fastball, Harrison said he tried to be tricky and looked for a strikeout.
He threw a slider, which Catricala laid off for a ball. Harrison then tried to sneak in a two-seam fastball inside, but the count went even. Catricala didn't swing on an 81-mph changeup, and Harrison went back to the same pitch but put a little bit more on it. Catricala crushed it for a solo home run.
Aside from the solo shot by Catricala, Harrison said he threw the ball pretty well. He said his curveball has worked well the past week and that he's getting more on top of the pitch now.
"The break has been getting better since I’ve started to do that," Harrison said.
Harrison struck out catcher Miguel Olivo on an 81-mph curveball in the second.
Harrison also felt good about his fastball, which hovered around 93-95 mph during his outing. The lefty struck out outfielder Chrone Figgins to start the game on a 93-mph heater.
"I've been working hard in the offseason to make sure I keep my mechanics lined up so I'm not coming around and swinging my leg around," Harrison said. "So I'm trying to keep everything a straight line and I think that's making me be more consistent and more behind the baseball than pulling off the stuff."
Nathan struggles: Joe Nathan didn't do so well in his second Cactus League appearance as a Ranger. He gave up three runs on two hits in one inning. Nathan walked his first two batters -- outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and designated hitter Jesus Montero -- on nine pitches.
After a visit on the mound, Nathan gave up a single to outfielder Mike Carp. Outfielder David Murphy saved a run by throwing Suzuki out at at home plate, but Nathan gave up a a three-run homer to Olivo in the next at-bat.
"He just couldn't get the ball down, that's all," manager Ron Washington said. "He couldn't get it down. Hung a slider to Olivo, he got it down to Ichiro, but then it was in the dirt. He just had trouble commanding it down in the zone."
Cruz homers: Nelson Cruz said he was fine Sunday after he was hit in the hand by a pitch. In his first at-bat Monday, Cruz proved it. He took pitcher Blake Beavan deep to left-center field to lead off the second inning. The solo shot on a 2-1 count was his first home run this spring.
"I don't try to hit homers right now," Cruz said. "I try to hit line drives and feel comfortable."
Martin's day: Outfielder Leonys Martin didn't see much action in center field during his first Cactus League start, but he did get a hit in the fifth inning. Martin finished 1-for-2 at the plate.
Nice plays: The Rangers made three. Outfielder David Murphy robbed shortstop Brendan Ryan of a base hit in the first inning. Murphy came charging towards shallow left field and laid out to record the second out.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus did his best to one-up Murphy's diving grab. Andrus ran down a ground ball near second base from Montero. Andrus scooped the ball, spun around toward first and made the throw to Michael Young in time for the out.
Harrison also made a tough out in the third inning, but it was more luck than skill. Second baseman Munenori Hawasaki had a hard hit ball that one-hopped right into Harrison's glove. He had more than enough time to make the out.
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