ARLINGTON, Texas – There was a time when the Rangers’ struggles on offense might have affected starter Matt Harrison.
Harrison has since become a more focused pitcher, but it didn’t help in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox that he had a slightly below-par performance in an otherwise stellar season.
While the Rangers where 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, Harrison allowed his most runs and earned runs (five) since a May 2 loss to Toronto.
That May 2 loss was also the last time Harrison lost back-to-back starts until now. Harrison, who dropped to 12-6, started well. He no-hit the White Sox for three innings, matching Chicago starter Philip Humber.
But after Harrison gave up two runs in the fourth and three more runs in the fifth, he said pitching behind a sputtering offense didn’t affect his concentration.
“I would say in the past it did, but now I’m just focusing on what I can do on the field and try to keep games as close as possible and give us a chance to win,” Harrison said. “Five runs is hard to come back from. We were trying to scratch back, but Humber kept making his pitches when he needed to.”
Harrison gave up seven hits and walked three in a seven-inning, 103-pitch performance. He allowed two, two-run homers to Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn that basically put the game out of reach of the Rangers’ offense . Harrison had allowed just three home runs in his last 11 starts.
The first homer came immediately after Harrison gave up an infield hit to Dunn. Konerko followed with a 416-foot blast to left field.
“I tried to throw a sliced up fastball,” Harrison said. “I did that the last at-bat and struck him out with it, so I think he was kind of geared up for that sliced up again and I just missed over the middle of the plate.”
Just before Dunn sent a 407-foot shot to straightaway center field in the fifth inning, Harrison allowed a walk to Kevin Youklis.
“With Dunn, I should have just kept pitching him in,” Harrison said. “I was making my pitches in on him and getting some weak contact. And then I try to go down and away on him and he got his arms extended. When a guy that big gets his arms extended, he’s going to put the ball pretty far in the outfield.”
The performance delivered by Harrison would have been good enough to win a lot of games when the Rangers’ offense is hitting on all cylinders. When it’s struggling, pitching mistakes become magnified.
“Other than the two pitches he got up for the two home runs, I thought he battled well,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “You know, he didn’t have his best stuff. The change-up he couldn’t get over like he wanted to and he just got a few pitches up. But, you know, he got us into the seventh.”
But by the time Harrison departed after the seventh, the Rangers had managed just one run on a homer by Mike Napoli. They scrambled for another run in the ninth.
“We put some balls in play and they made some really good plays. That’s baseball,” Harrison said. “We’re scuffling right now, but we’ve got to keep our heads up and keep going.”