ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28: Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the fourth inning during Game Seven of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Matt Harrison needed a good start on Monday night. So did Texas Rangers fans, and quite frankly, so did the organization.
It's been well documented that the Rangers' lefty, after his stellar start to the season, had some awful outings recently against the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, the latter on the road, both of which were blowout losses for the Rangers.
After he pitched into the eighth inning against the stout Detroit Tigers back on April 21 and gave up three runs, his ERA climbed to 1.66 from 0.64. In his last two starts, he's pitched a total of 8 1/3 innings and given up 14 earned runs.
That's why Monday night's start in Baltimore was such a welcomed sight to see for everyone involved with the Rangers. It's not that there was an official panic yet, but Monday should calm the nerves as Harrison essentially shut down the team that held the best record in baseball heading into Monday's game — fluke or not.
Harrison gave up two home runs (in the sixth and seventh innings) in seven innings of work, but was averaging just more than 10 pitches per inning through the first five. He was awfully efficient, throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 26 batters he faced and also induced two inning-ending double plays, which Harrison excels at.
On Monday we talked about the two rough outings at this time last year and how Harrison rebounded, and we'll get our chance to see if that will hold true on Saturday when he takes on the rival Los Angeles Angels in a key series.