Sunday, March 18, 2012
Matt Harrison excels in 3-2 loss to Chicago Cubs
By Jean-Jacques Taylor
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.
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."