Texas Rangers: Casper Wells
With the help of his sinker and some nice defensive plays, that’s exactly what Harrison was able to do Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.
He had trouble with his command in the first two innings. Harrison gave up two walks and singles in that span, but his defense was able to bail him out each time.
With two on and two outs in the first, shortstop Elvis Andrus fielded Justin Smoak’s ground ball to end the inning. Put in the same situation in the second following a walk to Chone Figgins, who’s batting .185 this season, Harrison was bailed out by second baseman Ian Kinsler. Brendan Ryan hit a line drive right at Kinsler.
“I owe a lot of the game to them,” Harrison said. “Every ball put in play, they made the play.”
Harrison retired six straight batters in the third and fourth on ground balls and fly balls, but he found himself in trouble again in the fifth.
With Michael Saunders on with a leadoff single, third baseman Adrian Beltre made a great catch on a Figgins line drive and threw to first for the double play. It was one of many hard-hit ground balls Beltre fielded cleanly for Harrison.
“I was praying he had a cup on because the way he was catching some of them, I was worried there,” Harrison said.
Beltre’s gold glove came in handy in the seventh to help extend Harrison’s outing. He fielded his second double play in the seventh on a ground ball from Ryan. Kinsler turned the throw from second to Michael Young at first to end the threat with runners at first and second.
“He’s a guy that pounds the strike zone and throws a lot of sinkers and cutters,” Beltre said. “We know we’re going to have a busy day when he’s throwing, which is good. He’s the type of guy you want out there keeping you on your toes.”
Closer Joe Nathan was active in the bullpen, but he stopped throwing and soon sat down during Harrison’s 12-pitch eighth inning. Ichiro Suzuki grounded out on two pitches, which paved the way for Harrison’s second strikeout -- a six-pitch at-bat against Casper Wells. Jesus Montero flied out to deep center field but fell short in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks.
“You’re going to get away with a few more mistakes than you would at our place,” Harrison said. “The biggest thing here is getting ahead of guys and make them swing the bats. ... It definitely works to your advantage when you have a park like that when you can go out and throw strikes and make them put the ball in play.”
Harrison topped his eighth inning performance with a seven-pitch ninth. In an ironic ending to a game where he only collected three strikeouts, he ended the with a strikeout of Miguel Olivo.
“That’s something we have to learn as a staff is to put innings away,” Washington said. “He kept trusting what he was doing and he worked around some things and finished the ballgame.”
Harrison's won eight consecutive starts against the Mariners dating back to May 1, 2010, which is the third longest consecutive winning streak against an opponent in club history. His 12th win is tied for the most in baseball and he has a 2.87 ERA.
“It’s a good start for the second half for me and I hope to continue building on that,” Harrison said.
The Texas Rangers started the second half of the season right with a 3-2 road win against the Seattle Mariners after the All-Star break. The Rangers halted a ninth-inning rally from Seattle, but failed to preserve a shutout. The Rangers got their offense going with nine hits, and Derek Holland got the win, throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings. Some thoughts on the win:
What it means: The Rangers are still tied with the New York Yankees for the most wins in the major leagues with a 53-34 record. With the win, they also improved their AL West lead to five games over the Los Angeles Angels.
Pitchers duel: Holland and former Ranger Kevin Millwood put on a show. The game was scoreless through the first four innings and both teams had a combined four hits through four innings. Holland had back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the second and third innings and again in the fifth and sixth. Holland also got out of a one-out jam in the fourth inning. Millwood retired nine straight after a leadoff single from Ian Kinsler in the first. Millwood's dominance dwindled in the fifth inning. In the end, Holland proved the better starter as he posted a quality start and came close to a complete game shutout. Holland finished with four hits, no runs, two walks and four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
The offense gets going: At first it appeared the offense was still in it's funk that began before the All-Star break, as the Rangers were scoreless with two hits through the first four innings. But the bats got going in the fifth inning with the help of a timely Mariners mistake. Michael Young and David Murphy hit singles to begin the inning and Mike Napoli hit into what should have been a double play, but turned into a fielder's choice when Dustin Ackley lost his grip on the ball after the putout at second. One out later, Kinsler hit an RBI single, but Napoli was called out at home to end the inning with the score 1-0. The Rangers scored again in the sixth after a Josh Hamilton single and an Adrian Beltre two-run homer to make the score 3-0. In the eighth inning, Nelson Cruz was inches away from a solo homer to deep center, but settled for a double. Seven Rangers finished the game with at least one hit.
Walking into danger: Holland narrowly avoided disaster in the fourth inning when he allowed a one out single and back-to-back walks to load the bases. Former Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak stepped up to the plate and worked a full count. After a 10 pitch battle, Smoak popped up to Elvis Andrus. With the bases still loaded, Miguel Olivo hit what looked like a single to right field, but Cruz caught up to it to end the inning and keep the score tied at zero.
Young stays hot: Young built upon his season-high four hit game in the series finale against the Minnesota Twins before the All-Star break with another solid performance. He went 2-for-4 and scored the first run of the game.
Napoli's struggles continue: Napoli had another hitless game accompanied by a familiar strikeout in the eighth inning. He managed to reach base twice on a fielder's choice in the fifth and a walk in the seventh. He also got credit for a stolen base in the fifth. He is 2-for-18 in the month of July and was batting .225 prior to Friday's game. He left the game after the eighth with a bruised right quad.
Nathan saves the day: Joe Nathan earned his 19th save of the season in stressful fashion. He failed to preserve the shutout when he had to pitch out of a jam to preserve the Rangers' win in the ninth inning. Kyle Seager hit a one-out single followed by two more singles from Smoak and John Jaso to load the bases. Michael Saunders hit an RBI single to erase the shutout, but was caught in a rundown between first and second base for the second out. Smoak then scored on a wild pitch to cut the Rangers' lead to one. The situation became more stressful when Nathan walked Carlos Peguero with a full count. Nathan finished the game when he struck out Ackley.
One-man show: The Mariners had only two hits through the first six innings, both off the bat of Casper Wells. Wells finished 2-for-4. The Mariners got their third hit from Seager, who hit a leadoff single in the seventh. Seattle finished with seven hits.
Sat at SEA: RHP Yu Darvish (10-5, 3.59) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.13), 8:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
Sun at SEA: LHP Matt Harrison (11-4, 3.10) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 4.84), 3:10 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW.
How it happened: Pitching was the key. Rangers starter Matt Harrison needed 35 pitches to get through a seven-batter first inning in which he gave up one run. Harrison needed just 26 pitches in the next three innings combined. He also had a stretch of nine straight batters retired end with a one-out double in the fifth inning. Harrison pitched into the eighth inning, and he left the game after giving up singles to the first two batters. Mike Adams inherited those two runners and retired the next three to hold the lead at 3-1. Joe Nathan closed the game for his 10th save.
|Rangers manager Ron Washington talks with Bryan Dolgin immediately following the Rangers 3-1 win in Seattle. |
Messing with Texas: Ichiro Suzuki’s first-inning single gave him 291 career hits against Texas, and his single in the eighth inning moved him past George Brett for the most hits against the Rangers.
Smoak signals: Former Ranger and current Mariner first baseman Justin Smoak drove in the Mariners' first-inning run with a single.
Not in the box score: Josh Hamilton made a great catch with his back to home plate while running down Casper Wells' drive on the warning track in center field to close out the bottom of the first inning and leave the bases filled with Mariners. Hamilton made another catch up against the center-field wall when Alex Liddi led off the third inning.
Walk through: Mariners starting pitcher Hector Noesi was perfect through two, but then he walked the leadoff man in the third and another Ranger with one out. Later that inning with two outs, Elvis Andrus drove in both of those walked batters with his third triple of the season.
In the box score: Hamilton swung on the first pitch following the Andrus two-RBI triple, and he delivered an RBI double for a 3-1 Rangers lead. Prior to that hit, Hamilton was 3-for-18 since his 16-game hitting streak.
Gold glove & off glove: Adrian Beltre made a sweet diving stop of Dustin Ackley’s grounder in the fifth for the second out, but Liddi followed with a grounder off Beltre’s glove for an error. Shockingly, Brendan Ryan, who moved up from second base to third base on that play, did not try to score as the ball rolled toward shallow left-center field. The score stayed at 3-1 with the Rangers leading.
HR drought: Ian Kinsler has not hit a home run in the last 24 games. He has just one RBI in his last 15 games.
Bullpen: Adams has appeared in five of the six games the Rangers played against the Mariners this season.
Rotation: The Rangers starting rotation stays in the same order, which means everyone gets an extra day of rest in between starts thanks to Thursday’s scheduled off day.
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Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.