ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers rotation has shined early this season.
And then there’s Matt Harrison.
Harrison, the Opening Day starter for Texas, struggled in his second consecutive start as the Los Angeles Angels doubled up the Rangers 8-4.
The other three rotation members who’ve started thus far for the Rangers have allowed three combined earned runs. Harrison has been tagged for 10, with five of those coming Saturday.
The Rangers’ offense was down 4-0 before it even had a chance to bat as Harrison allowed two-run homers to Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.
“In that first inning any ball I left up was leaving the ballpark or just about to,” said Harrison, who is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA. “I just didn’t keep enough of them (pitches) down that first inning. I put us in a big hole and tried to do damage control from there.”
Unfortunately for Texas, the damage was already done on a day when the teams combined to hit seven home runs (four for the Angels).
Harrison allowed just one more run in his five-inning start, but Texas never got within three runs of the Angels.
Despite the rough outing for Harrison, who won 18 games last year but had a 5.11 ERA this spring, Texas manager Ron Washington isn’t worried about his lefty.
“There’s no level of concern,” Washington said. “He just misfired some pitches and they didn’t miss. He had trouble setting in the first two innings. After that he went to work and got us three zeroes.”
Harrison started the season opener against Houston with three perfect innings. Since then, he’s allowed at least one hit in all eight innings while opponents are hitting .412 against him in the last 7 2/3 innings.
Harrison, who is the first Opening Day Texas starter to lose his first two starts since Kevin Millwood in 2008, has struggled to keep his sinker down. He said he feels fine, but location problems are hurting him.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Harrison said. “Any time you’re giving up that many runs in one inning it’s frustrating. I just have to do a better job of keeping that ball down and minimizing damage. They’re a good lineup. It’s just rough. I’ve just got to get better. They didn’t miss mistakes.”
The Rangers were able to keep Josh Hamilton from hurting them once again. Hamilton went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a walk. Three times the Rangers intentionally walked Pujols to get to Hamilton and he followed with two strikeouts and a fly ball.
The two times Texas didn’t walk Pujols, he hurt them. With the Rangers trailing 5-2 in the sixth, Texas brought on Jason Frasor. He allowed a leadoff homer to Peter Bourjos and then Pujols hit another with two outs.
“That’s Pujols man,” Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said.
The Rangers showed some pop, as Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler hit second-inning homers and Nelson Cruz added a solo shot in the ninth. But Texas, which came into the game with just two home runs, also stranded leadoff runners in the fourth and fifth innings when the game was still in question.
“It’s going to happen,” Andrus said of the Texas offense getting going. “It’s still early. We’ll figure it out.”
Harrison hopes to as well. Last year he won his first three starts of the season and didn’t pick up his second loss until May.
“The movement was definitely better,” Harrison said. “I don’t know if it was a mechanical issue, just dragging my arm or rushing a little bit to the plate and not giving my arm time to catch up and being in synch. I just have to try and make a better adjustment.”