Return to mound doesn’t go Harrison’s way

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison reacts after leaving the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Harrison’s return to the pitching mound Wednesday was triumphant just because Harrison made it all the way back from spinal fusion surgery he had last June.

For now, that’s going to be where the feel-good story of Harrison’s return ends.

The left-hander allowed six runs in his first start for the Rangers and the offense missed out on chances to bail him out as the Arizona Diamondbacks completed an interleague sweep of Texas with a 7-4 win.

The Rangers are now 0-5 on the homestand and have dropped eight-consecutive games at Globe Life Park. 

They turned to Harrison to try and end that slide Wednesday but five two-out runs in the second inning cost Harrison and the Rangers. He lasted just four innings and gave up six hits and walked three batters.

While it wasn’t the performance Harrison wanted, at least he has a starting point and is back in the majors.

"I definitely had some nerves," Harrison said. "It calmed down after the first inning. The second inning is what killed me. I just didn’t make the pitches when I needed to. I left some off-speed pitches up in the zone and they made me pay for it. I got better after that. I threw a lot of pitches and was behind in a lot of counts so it ruined my night."

Harrison gave up RBI singles with two outs in the second before A.J. Pollack’s three-run homer made it a 5-0 game. He didn’t allow another run until the fifth, when he gave up a single to open the inning and was pulled for Anthony Bass. Bass gave up a two-run homer with two outs to Welington Castillo.

Harrison’s fastball topped out at 87 mph and he struggled with his command in the 78-pitch start but Texas manager Jeff Banister was impressed with how far he’s come in the 14 months since the surgery and he was told he’d have a 20 percent chance to pitch again.

"Personally I’m proud of the trek he’s come through and been on to walk back on the mound tonight, to pitch here in our home ballpark," Banister said. "Obviously not the way he would like it to have the outcome he wanted. For him to get back on the mound and pitch and face major-league hitters, I felt like after the five-run inning, settled in and got a key ground ball double play to get out of an inning. Settled in a little bit, arm was a little freer, pitches a little sharper."

The Rangers did score four times but also stranded 11 baserunners. They trailed 5-2 in the fourth but loaded the bases against Jeremy Hellickson with no outs. That’s where the fun ended in the inning though as Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields each struck out before Shin-Soo Choo flied out to end the inning.

Arizona didn’t miss on is chances an inning later with the two-run homer off Bass. The Rangers did score single runs in the fifth and sixth innings but that was it. Texas had 11 hits but was a lowly 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

"I think teams go through spurts like that," said Josh Hamilton, who had an RBI double in the fifth inning. "Each individual player has their own thing they like to think about or do. Teams go through that. They’re knocking everybody in one month and another month they’re struggling with it. We’ll keep working on it in batting practice."

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