Matt Harrison excels in 3-2 loss to Chicago Cubs

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
5:52
PM CT


LAS VEGAS -- Matt Harrison and Derek Holland did exactly what they should've done to the overmatched split squad roster the Chicago Cubs brought to Las Vegas.

They dominated.

Harrison, just like Holland on Satuday, suffocated the Cubs' offense by attacking the strike zone and getting ahead in the counts against a lineup that featured regulars Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair and a couple of backups. It's the oldest and most reliable pitching formula in baseball.

In five innings, Harrison allowed one hit and one run with a walk and five strikeouts in a 3-2 loss to the Cubs. In his outing, Holland allowed no runs on a hit with no walks and two strikeouts.

"So far, so good," Harrison said. "Hopefully, I can keep doing the same thing: pounding the strike zone and making quality pitches. I want to make them swing the bats because good stuff happens when they do that."

Harrison struck out 126 batters in 185 innings last year. He's not trying to increase his strikeouts, but if he can make his changeup a consistent weapon, the numbers will naturally rise. He's been working on using his fingertips to slow down the ball when he releases it instead of slowing down his arm speed down.

At least two of his strikeouts occurred on changeups.

"I've always thought that was his second-best pitch," Ron Washington said. "He worked on it the second half of last season, and he came into spring training, and he's continued to work on it and it's gotten better."
Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.06 182 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .323
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 69
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .874
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182