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Matt Harrison Comes Through As Needed

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    On Tuesday, we wrote that it was high time Matt Harrison got back on track.

    It took less than one inning of his start against Harrison before some serious doubt about his ability to pull that off creeped into the picture. Harrison was ragged in the first inning and needed 35 pitches (and a good catch by Josh Hamilton) to get the Mariners out. He only allowed one run, but it didn't look good for his chances of avoiding more or for the Rangers' chances of avoiding a busy night from the bullpen.

    This was exactly the problem the team needed to avoid. And it was also shaping up to be the kind of start that moves the needle on Harrison from concern to worry.

    But just as suddenly as the dark clouds appeared, they went away. Harrison needed 79 pitches to get through the next six-plus innings and looked a lot more like the pitcher the Rangers need him to be as the night progressed. Harrison didn't allow another run and didn't walk a batter after that ugly first inning while picking up five strikeouts.

    It was the start we were talking about on Tuesday and it was a relief to see Harrison up to his old tricks. We probably shouldn't have been so worried. It was May 22nd, after all.

    As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out, Harrison came up with a pretty reassuring start on the same day last year. He allowed five hits and no runs over 8.1 shutout innings against the Phillies in Philadelphia, ending a prolonged slump on the mound.

    Like this year, Harrison started off well in 2011 and then ran off four mediocre or worse starts in a row. The win against the Phillies put Harrison back on track and, starting that night, he was 11-5 with a 3.10 ERA for the rest of the season. 

    No one with the Rangers would complain if the same thing happened this time. If it does, you can be sure Harrison will start on May 22nd, 2013.