Quiet Matt Harrison makes lots of noise
Sandwiched in between them was Matt Harrison, a quiet starter happy to fly under the radar as long as he keeps winning games and making quality starts. But Harrison had one thing to start 2012 that Holland and Darvish don't: a spot on ESPN's Sunday Night national television broadcast.
The rest of the country got to see what Rangers fans already knew about Harrison. The 26-year-old doesn't mess around. He pounds the strike zone, uses all of his pitches, mixes speeds and is growing in confidence.
"It was a good night," Harrison said. "I was able to throw [my secondary pitches] for strikes and give them more of another look and something else to swing at. I knew if I kept the fastball down in the zone that good things would happen."
That included his changeup to right-handed batters. The pitch got some swings and misses and kept hitters from timing his fastball very well.
Harrison's only regret was that a few long at-bats pushed his pitch count up and kept him from going deeper in the game. He needed 103 pitches to get through six innings. But he didn't allow a run, pitching out of a jam in his final inning. Harrison gave up a two-out single and then issued a walk to Alex Rios.
"That was a bad walk right there with two outs," Harrison said. "I wanted to throw the curveball there and try to freeze him, I just didn't get it in the zone. I put myself in a situation where I brought the tying run to the plate, and that's not a good thing. I was able to get out of it. But next time, I'll go with a fastball in that situation to Rios."
Harrison still believes that his biggest help is a mechanical fix he's been working on where his delivery is more downhill and toward the plate. He said he had a tendency to open his front leg up a little bit and pull off his pitches, hurting his ability to find the location he wanted. He was consistent and in rhythm Sunday, pitching quickly and effectively.
He also showed off his defense, gloving a ball hit right back to him with a runner at third and one out in the fourth. Paul Konerko's sharp bouncer went right to the mound and Harrison got to it, threw to third and caught Gordon Beckham in a rundown to end the threat. All that practice in Arizona appeared to help.
"I think that was the biggest key in the game right there because we hit the home run to take the lead, 1-0, and I was able to get out of that situation," Harrison said. "I stuck my glove down there and it went in there. We definitely did a lot of work on PFPs in spring and that's going to help during the season."
Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011 and it helped that he started the season off with three good outings. He's hoping to repeat that in 2012.
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- There are no games scheduled for today.