Saturday, June 18, 2011
Long rain delay doesn't stop Matt Harrison
By Richard Durrett
ATLANTA -- For a guy who has dealt with a blister on his pitching hand, a bruise on his left triceps and a kidney stone, staying loose during a two-hour, 16-minute rain delay really wasn't too difficult.
Matt Harrison did that, throwing in the batting cages in the bowels of Turner Field as the rain poured down outside. Before Mother Nature intervened, Harrison had allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings. He was one out away from an official game when the game was delayed.
Harrison wasn't ready to give the baseball up.
About 30 minutes before the game resumed, Harrison and pitching coach Mike Maddux went to the bullpen mound to throw. And Harrison started lobbying.
"He was leaning toward not letting me go back out there," said Harrison, who said his previous longest wait through rain was 45 minutes. "But I felt good and kept telling him I felt good and wasn't stiff and he let me back out here. I was able to get some outs."
It's the longest delay for a starting pitcher to endure and then return to the mound this season (STATS Inc.). Clay Buchholz pitched after waiting two hours and seven minutes in May.
Harrison got left-handed hitter Jordan Schafer to fly out on three pitches to end the fifth once play resumed and then came back out for the sixth. He struck out Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward, but left a cutter up to Brian McCann, who rarely misses mistakes up in the zone. He belted it out to right to make it a 4-3 game.
Harrison got Wilkin Ramirez to end the inning and then struckout left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman to end his night.
"It was very gritty," manager Ron Washington said. "He said he was feeling good and I think you saw he wasn't losing much. We needed him to get us to the seventh inning and he did. He stepped up."
Harrison pitched well enough to get a win but wound up with a no-decision when Darren Oliver couldn't hold the one-run lead in the eighth. The Rangers recovered in the 10th as Adrian Beltre got the go-ahead single after Ian Kinsler started the rally with a double. Neftali Feliz finished the game off with a save (tease alert: more on Feliz Sunday morning on the blog).
That's two straight wins for Texas and they'll try for a sweep of the Braves on Sunday. The wins come after the club was swept in New York and lost three of four in Minnesota.
"Maybe this is the start of turning things around," Kinsler said.