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Matt Harrison Will Be Better for Wednesday's Loss

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Harrison Will Be Better for Loss

AP

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For the first time in almost a year, the Rangers are a full game out of first place in the AL West.

They've lost three straight series for the first time since 2009 and the giddy feelings generated by the 6-0 start have given way to worries about the state of the team. One concern is that the rotation, so good in its first couple of spins, might actually be closer to the one nobody believed in before the season got underway.

Those concerns are unfounded. Alexi Ogando got knocked around on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium, but he fought hard against a tough lineup and battled CC Sabathia to a stalemate. Matt Harrison picked up his first loss of the season Wednesday, but, like Ogando, there was plenty to like about his start against the other side's ace. 

Jered Weaver was spectacular on Wednesday night and there was little short of a no-hitter that Harrison could have done to beat him. He gave his team every chance to win the game, though, and showed an ability to roll with the punches that bodes very well for his future as a starter. 

The fifth inning of the game is a prime example of Harrison's toughness on the mound. David Murphy's lack of range in center helped turn a Peter Bourjos hit into a triple. The play seemed to shake Harrison up because he made an error on Jeff Mathis's squeeze bunt to allow Bourjos to score and then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Any more runs and the Rangers would have been finished so Harrison's strikeout of Torii Hunter showed an impressive ability to shake off the past and focus on the task at hand.

Hamilton was victimized by more bad luck later in the game when a ball went off Adrian Beltre's glove on a run-scoring single, so his first loss could have been a no-decision if things broke Texas's way a little more often. That would have been deserved on a night when Harrison mixed his pitches with a lot more savvy than we've seen to this point in his career.

There are going to be nights when things don't go your way and good starters find a way to compete under those circumstances. Harrison did that on Wednesday and that's the surest sign yet that he's on his way to becoming one of those good starters.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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