Matt Harrison pitched an excellent game tonight. He has been the Ranger’s most consistent pitcher all season, and one of only two of the original starters left after the disabled list pretty much claimed everyone else besides Yu Darvish. He leads the American League with 11 wins now (tied with David Price). ESPN published their picks for the American League All-Star roster today. Three out of the four writers had Harrison in their list of pitchers. Two had picked Yu Darvish (who has 10 wins), as well. Today Darvish did say that he did not feel like he deserved to be on the All-Star roster.
Back to Harrison and the game tonight. Lately, it seems like every time Harrison goes out the Rangers struggle offensively. On June 18, the Rangers scored 2 runs in the 1st and never scored again against the San Diego Padres. Harrison had to hold a 1-run lead to get the win. In his prior start, he went 7 1/3 scoreless against the Diamondbacks, but the Rangers offense didn’t bother to score until the 8th inning giving Mike Adams a 1-0 win. And it was like that again tonight. The offense couldn’t do anything against Oakland’s A.J. Griffin who went six innings and gave up only 2 hits. The Rangers could only string together 4 hits for the entire game. Another extremely lackluster performance from the best hitting team in the league. But that was enough as Craig Gentry came through with a clutch 3-run, pinch-hit triple in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead and secure the win.
It was nice to see Tanner Scheppers come in and close it out for his first major league save. Joe Nathan got a rest after having pitched in 3 straight games. It was NOT nice to see Mike Napoli continue to look like a minor leaguer at the plate. Griffin made him look completely silly on a slow breaking curve ball with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 2nd. He managed to strike out 2 more times in the game, once with Gentry on third in the bottom of the 8th. Napoli now has 79 strike outs on the season to 52 hits. He’s only 6 strike outs shy of matching his complete total from last year. The reality is, and the Ranger broadcasters won’t talk about it, Napoli is just absolutely horrible right now, and I don’t know what he needs to do to fix it. In the 2nd inning at bat, he saw two fastballs, belt high, right down the middle and could only manage to foul each of them off. Last year, he would have completely crushed the first one and there wouldn’t have been a need for the second. Right now, he is by far the worst regular starter in the lineup.
But taking the good with the bad, the Rangers improved their league leading record tonight to 49-29, 20 games over .500.