The Rangers lost tonight 7-4 to the Blue Jays, although it should have been far worse considering 13 men reached base on something other than a hit. Harden started the game and he breezed through the first seven hitters striking out five of them. Then the floodgates let loose and he lost his command.
In most cases, if a starting pitcher throws 90+ pitches you expect your him to go into at least the sixth inning, if not the seventh inning. Harden threw 90 pitches and only lasting 3 2/3 innings and left with a no-decision. Not exactly what the Rangers or Harden expected out of his first appearance as a Rangers.
When a pitchers command is not with him, every pitch he throws is an adventure. He doesn’t know if its going to make it through the strike zone and in the pitchers glove or if it will be a called ball. Every time a pitcher steps on the mound, he takes a gamble as to if how close he can get to the strike zone without giving up a hit. When the pitches are coming no where near the strike zone the batter just waits on four balls and takes his base.
Even the best defensive veteran players such as Michael Young can make errors which can cause runs to score. Players are only humans and things happen. Harden started the fourth inning by plunking Vernon Wells before giving up a walk to Lyle Overbay. Edwin Encarnacion then hit a ball towards third base and Michael Young attempted to make a play on the ball. It was a ground ball that Young just couldn’t come up with and it then loaded the bases instead of the a inning being over on a inning ending double play.
Harden finished the evening with 90 pitches, walking five, one hit batsman, and struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings. The strike outs where great and he only gave up one earned run, with two runs coming unearned on the Young error. Once Harden hit the showers the Rangers relievers were not much more effective.
Long man Dustin Nippert replaced Harden in the fourth and promptly got Aaron Hill out on a ground ball. He then entered the fifth and walked Adam Lind before serving up a two run homer to Vernon Wells giving the Blue Jays a 5-3 lead. Nippert ending up giving up four walks before turning the ball over to Darren O’Day.
Out of all of the Rangers pitchers tonight O’day seemed to be the most effective getting three outs before surrendering a hit and being replaced by Darren Oliver, who then gave up a home run to Vernon wells which was his second of the game. Chris Ray then replaced Oliver before giving up another walk, which was the tenth total of the game. If you were to overlook the 13 bases awarded to the Blue Jays on something other than hits by the Rangers pitching, the five hits they gave up were not too bad.
On a positive note, when Vernon Wells enters free agency the Rangers should pursue him. He is from Arlington so he would probably give a hometown discount and he is very effective at The Ballpark in Arlington. So far in two games of the season he already has 3 home runs.