It's not every day that baseball makes you think about the electric chair, but Wednesday is one of those days.
When the week began, it looked like Matt Harrison was sitting on one. Three bad starts in a row had everyone looking for an alternative to his increasingly frustrating brand of mound work. Tommy Hunter was getting a rehab start on Monday and seemed like an awfully good alternative to the status quo.
But Hunter strained his groin, knocking the timetable for his return back several weeks. That's bad news for a Rangers team that could use a boost to their pitching staff in one place or another but it is very good news for Harrison.
It wasn't all that long ago that we were talking about the left hander as one of the bright surprises of the 2011 season. He had three great starts to kick off the season and a fourth decent one to make everyone excited about the year to come. But 13 earned runs in his last 10.2 innings has sucked all the life out of that bubble, making it feel like Harrison is the same below average pitcher that we've seen for the last three years.
That's what made Wednesday night seem like a big one for Harrison. Another bad start and it would have almost certainly been curtains for his spot in the starting rotation. In other words, it would have been his last night on death row.
Then, like something out of a Hollywood screenplay, the execution was called off at the very last second. Hunter's groin injury is like a stay from the Supreme Court or a new piece of evidence turned up by a dogged investigator because it gives Harrison a new lease on life.
The question now is what he does with this reprieve. He could keep living his life the same way and find himself back in the frying pan, so to speak, as soon as there's another option. Or this could be the turning point for his season and, really, his career. It's all in his left hand starting Wednesday night against the A's.