Texas Rangers: Steve Delabar
May, 28, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yes Matt Harrison gave up another first-inning run, but that's fine. He's been able to settle down the rest of the way in previous starts and he did it again Monday night. The left-hander went eight innings in leading the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The Rangers have now won four consecutive games. Harrison also beat Seattle in his last start with a seven-inning effort.
In a close game where the Rangers had trouble scoring runs against former teammate and Mariners starter Kevin Millwood, the bats came alive against reliever Steve Delabar with a three-run sixth inning.
How it happened? To put it simply, Mike Napoli. With two strikeouts on his ledger, Napoli came up with two on and one out in the sixth inning against Delabar. Napoli stroked a 2-0 fastball belt high that hit the front of the upper deck in right to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. It was Napoli's ninth homer of the season. After a 3-for-25 slump, Napoli is 3-for-6 with two home runs, three RBIs and four runs the last two games.
Harrison's day: The Rangers' starter allowed his ninth first inning-run of the season but settled down and pitched a wonderful game. His final totals for the evening: eight innings, seven hits, two earned runs and five strikeouts on 98 pitches. He didn't walk a batter. Before the game, Harrison talked about getting his sinker down in the strike zone and challenging the opposing hitters. Harrison didn't get into much trouble outside the first inning. He retired eight in a row until a fourth-inning single by Jesus Montero. It was a solid outing by Harrison (6-3).
Play of the night: Napoli's homer was impressive, but the play he made at home plate in the eighth inning was pretty special. Brendan Ryan tripled to center when Craig Gentry's dive was well short of a ball that bounced to the wall. Michael Saunders, who reached on an infield hit earlier in the inning, scored easily. Nelson Cruz's strong throw to cutoff man Ian Kinsler setup up the play at the plate. Napoli blocked the plate with his foot and placed a high tag on Ryan's left arm as he slid into home plate. Instead of a one-run game, the Napoli's block and tag kept it a two-run game.
Memorial Day stuff: The Rangers are now 17-20 on Memorial Day have won their last two games on the holiday. The Rangers are also 10-11 at home on Memorial Day. Among those in attendance were former president George W. Bush and former Cowboys and University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.
What's next?: Game 2 of the series has Scott Feldman (0-2, 4.66) taking on Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.39). CF Josh Hamilton could return to the lineup after missing Monday night's game with an upper respiratory infection.