When Matt Harrison made an unprecedented return after a 14-month layoff from a spinal fusion procedure just before the all-star break, the result wasn't good. And that bad result took a back seat to the mere fact that Harrison was back on a big-league mound when he was given a 20 percent chance to do that by his doctors. It was a great comeback story by a guy who's impossible to dislike.
But it appeared his days with the Rangers would be numbered as he struggled to get his fastball into the upper 80s and stumbled with his struggling command as he gave up six runs in four innings against the Diamondbacks.
Harrison made his second start since returning from the career "death sentence" on Tuesday night in Colorado — not a friendly destination for pitchers — and the result was much, much better.
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Harrison threw 91 pitches to get 18 outs, including two double plays, and of those 18 outs, he got 13 on groundballs. It was truly vintage Harrison, other than the dip in fastball velocity. With that said, he did hit 91 mph on the radar gun, which was better than his return before the break.
To put it in perspective, Tuesday's outing was Harrison's first quality start since his debut last year on April 27. On that night, he gave up two runs in six innings but soon after his back issues reappeared and he was shut down to have the spinal fusion surgery.
It was his first scoreless outing of at least six innings since Aug. 24, 2012, when he threw eight shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins.
Does this all mean Harrison is good to go and will be a mainstay in the Rangers' rotation again? Absolutely not. In fact, the odds are still stacked heavily against him, but it at least gave him and the Rangers some hope that he might be able to return to being a contributor every fifth day.