Found May 29, 2012 on
Fox Sports Southwest:
ARLINGTON, Texas By dialing down his fastball Matt Harrison has found a way to dial up his success rate.
Harrison, who made a point of focusing on location and not power before his start Monday against Seattle, was able to work that plan to perfection as the Rangers doubled up the Mariners 4-2 at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas has now won four-consecutive games and matched the 1998 team for the best 49-game record in club history at 31-18.
Harrison has six of those victories and has returned to being the same dominant pitcher he was in early April in his last two outings. Since a wild first inning last week in Seattle, he's pitched 14 innings without walking a batter and has allowed just one earned run.
Tuesday night he threw just 98 pitches in six innings and struck out five. While the pitch count was low, his strike rate was high as Harrison pounded the strike zone to the tune of 65 strikes.
That success came from taking a little something off a fastball that can touch the upper 90s.
"When you feel really good it's hard not to let it go," said Harrison. "You're way better at 92 or 93 when you're down in the zone than when you're at 95 or 96 waist high because guys can just put the barrel on the ball when it's up around that level. You can use it later on in the at-bat when you're ahead of the guys. From the get-go I was going to hit my spots."
Harrison did allow a run in the first for the ninth time this season but after allowing an RBI single to Jesus Montero, he retired eight-consecutive batters and Seattle managed just three more singles off him until the eighth inning.
Harrison (6-3) needed to be on top of his game because Texas also struggled to score against Seattle starter Kevin Millwood, who allowed just a solo homer to Nelson Cruz in his five innings. The Rangers finally gave Harrison a lead to work with in the sixth on a three-run homer from Mike Napoli.
Napoli also played a role in preserving the lead for Harrison in the eighth. After allowing a leadoff single, Brendan Ryan tripled past a diving Craig Gentry in center to cut the lead to 4-2. Ryan tried to stretch the play into an inside-the-park-homer but was cut down at the plate with Mike Napoli blocking him after a Nelson Cruz to Ian Kinsler relay.
Harrison, who allowed seven hits, rewarded the defense by retiring the final two batters he faced before giving way to Joe Nathan in the ninth.
"We had a pretty good thing going tonight," said Napoli of Harrison, who shook off his catcher twice. "We were just following our game plan and watching swings behind the plate and going off that. He threw well, getting strike one, and he had a good sinker tonight."
The Rangers need Harrison to be effective. He started May by allowing eight runs in 3 13 innings and had a 5.97 ERA in May coming into the start against Seattle. But Harrison has dominated the Mariners, upping his mark to 8-1 with his win Monday.
While the Rangers were happy with Harrison's outing Monday, there was no surprise. He won 14 games last season and there's no doubting his ability.
"I think he always trusts his stuff," manager Ron Washington said. "I just think the past three or four times he's taken the baseball he's been on a mission. The key for him is throwing strikes. He has a tremendous sinker. His off-speed stuff was real good tonight, his curveball and changeup. When he can spot his fastball in the strike zone and then use his curveball and his changeup, he's very effective, as he was tonight."
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