ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 27: Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
For the second straight outing, Matt Harrison faced the Seattle Mariners on Monday night, and for the second straight outing, things didn't get off to the best of starts as he allowed a first-inning run to get things off on the wrong foot.
And for the second straight outing, Harrison was nearly perfect after a so-so first inning.
Harrison ended up going eight innings on Monday night, throwing only 98 pitches in the Texas Rangers' 4-2 win over the Mariners while allowing two earned runs on seven hits with zero walks.
If only Harrison could pitch every game against the Mariners, as the lefty's career line against Seattle is now 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA, rivaling Neftali Feliz's ridiculous career line against the M's.
His two stellar outings in a row might be signaling a turnaround after a brief lapse of effectiveness over the end of April and first half of May when he watched his ERA climb from 0.64 to 5.23, but over his last two starts his ERA has dipped by nearly a full run. It resembles a run after four straight shaky starts last year at this same time, after which he reeled off a stretch of 36 2/3 innings while allowing just six earned runs.
Could we be in store for a similar stretch? The way Harrison has pitched in his last two times out would sure seem to suggest it. He's pounding the strike zone and he's keeping the guesswork to a minimum, having full faith in all of his pitches.
"I've been a little sluggish in the first couple of innings and I was just trying to hit (Mike) Napoli's glove and make them put the ball in play," Harrison said after the game. "We were on the same page pretty much the whole game. I shook him off twice. We just kept going and make them put the ball in play and the defense was outstanding behind me and we ended up scoring some runs late."