Matt Harrison masterful in win over Mariners
September, 16, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Harrison thought he had a chance to convince manager Ron Washington to leave him in with runners on the corners in a one-run game with two outs in ninth inning.
"I didn't see that he had already signaled for Koji (Uehara)," Harrison said. "I tried to talk him into letting me pitch to the lefty. But I know Koji has done a great job against lefties. It worked out."
Harrison came out after 8 2/3 innings and watched as Uehara struck out Michael Saunders to end the game. Harrison came within a strike of getting his fourth complete game of the season but settled for one run allowed on six hits in 8 2/3 innings. It was his 17th win of the season and showed that he is rested and ready for the stretch drive.
Harrison had struggled in recent starts against Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Against Cleveland in his last start, Washington thought he looked a bit fatigued in the sixth inning and took him out despite having allowed just two runs on five hits. That wasn't the case on Sunday, Harrison's 27th birthday.
"He was outstanding," Washington said. "He had a good breaking ball, good changeup. He even had some quickness on the mound. So everything we needed out of him today, he gave to us. That will put to rest that he’s fatigued."
Harrison complimented the job Mike Napoli did behind the plate calling the game. And he got some help from his defense, which turned three double plays. Harrison helped start two of those, gloving choppers and making good throws to second in the fourth and seventh to get outs. He was also pleased with his ability to get ahead of hitters and stay aggressive in the strike zone.
"It was great," Napoli said of Harrison's start. "He got ahead of hitters. He got guys out early in the count. He pitched well. I’m glad we got two runs to support him a little bit. Overall I thought everything was pretty good. He had a good changeup. He mixed in a couple of curveballs and backdoor sliders. For the most part he was throwing strikes and missing barrels."
Harrison has been the club's most consistent pitcher all season and was an All-Star. And he's certainly in the discussion when it comes to who pitches Game 1 of the playoffs, should the Rangers get there. But Harrison was also doing what most of the staff has been able to do recently -- pitch deep into games, limit the opponent and give the Rangers a chance to win.
"That's the bottom line," Harrison said. "I just want to keep it going like the rest of these guys."