Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers.
Matt Harrison didn't take anything for granted going into the spring training, even after winning 14 games last season for the American League champion Texas Rangers.
The left-hander left no doubt about staying in the rotation.
After a 1.69 ERA in four Cactus League starts before the Rangers broke camp from Arizona, Harrison struck out five with no walks in his scheduled four innings Tuesday night in a 13-4 exhibition victory over the Mexico City Red Devils.
"I just took the mentality that I did last year, come in fighting for a spot, and that really helped me," Harrison said. "Be aggressive and prove to them that it wasn't a fluke last year."
Harrison, who is scheduled to start Sunday against the Chicago White Sox in the third regular season game of the season, gave up three hits and two runs, one earned, against Mexico City.
Michael Young had a pair of RBI doubles, though one of them should have been his first home run of the spring, for Texas. Ian Kinsler homered and Nelson Cruz had a two-run double before leaving the game with a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch.
Young thought he had a three-run homer in the first inning when his long flyball to center ricocheted back onto the field. He was trotting toward second base when umpires instead ruled it was a double. Manager Ron Washington came out to question them, but the minor league umpires working the game conferred and stuck with their call.
"If this was Friday, it would have mattered," Young said. "I feel like I'm having good at-bats and seeing the ball. ... I feel fine, I feel normal, I feel healthy, I feel ready to go."
Young hit .423 in 19 Cactus League games before the Rangers broke camp Sunday, but had no homers and only three RBIs in 52 at-bats in Arizona.
Television replays, which aren't used by umpires in exhibition games, showed that the ball cleared the 8-foot wall and came back on the field after hitting concrete behind there.
"They didn't have a key to the box," Washington said, with a smile, referring to the usual replay procedure.
Cruz followed with his double, putting the Rangers ahead to stay at 3-1.
The ALCS MVP left his second exhibition game in a week after being hit by a pitch. He took a ball off his left elbow in the third inning and was pulled for a pinch-runner. The Rangers said X-rays were negative and that Cruz was day to day.
The exhibition game was played only hours after heavy storms moved through the region and produced multiple tornadoes.
Workers at Rangers Ballpark took shelter in hallways during a pair of tornado warnings when the strong storm front passed through the area during the middle of the afternoon. There was no damage at the stadium, though a video taken by catcher Zach Zaneski from the dugout showed dark clouds rolling through the sky overhead while gusty, swirling winds lifted the tarp that was covering the field.
New Rangers closer Joe Nathan struck out three and gave up an unearned run over 1 2-3 innings in relief of Harrison.
Setup reliever Mike Adams left after being struck on the right calf by a comebacker in the eighth inning. Like Cruz, Washington said Adams has a bruise and should be ready for the regular season opener Friday at home against the Chicago White Sox.
Mexico City led 1-0 in the first when Japhet Amador had a sacrifice fly after consecutive singles by Ivan Terrazas and Oscar Robles.
"I had a little bit of trouble in the first inning trying to find my command," Harrison said. "After that, I kind of settled in and was able to get quick outs and settled in. ... Just take today and carry it into Sunday, carry the whole spring into Sunday, keeping aggressive and keep pounding the strike zone."
Red Devils starter Rolando Valdez retired the first two batters he faced before Josh Hamilton doubled, Adrian Beltre walked and Young had his over-the-wall double to tie the game at 1. Valdez gave up six runs over four innings.
Hamilton led off the third with a single and scored when Young ripped a doubled down the left-field line for a 4-1 lead. Yorvit Torreabla had a sacrifice fly later in the inning.
Notes: Rangers GM Jon Daniels says it's "more than likely" right-handed reliever Yoshinori Tateyama (back stiffness) will start the season on the disabled list. ... Yu Darvish gets his final tuneup for the season Wednesday when the Rangers play their final exhibition game, at Double-A Frisco. Manager Ron Washington says he expects Darvish to go four innings or about 65 innings, the same as Harrison on Tuesday night. ... Darvish signed one of his Japan League No. 11 jerseys and had it framed to give to hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh's son. It was his way of thanking Coolbaugh for giving up No. 11 so he could wear that with the Rangers.