SEATTLE, WA - JULY 15: Starting pitcher Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 15, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
- Ho hum. Another routine win, another series victory on the road. At what point did taking two of three in Seattle become the norm, what is expected, if anything slightly disappointing because, you know, we didn't sweep, and the lead in the A.L. West is just 5 games?
- At some point, don't we have to start taking Matt Harrison seriously? Since the start of the 2011 season, he hasn't been striking many batters out, but he's also not walking batters -- his 4 free passes today notwithstanding -- and he's been getting lots of ground balls. His ERA has been better than his Defensive-Independent stats say it should be, but if you're a ground ball pitcher who has three really good defenders behind you in the infield, that should be expected. It seems like we're waiting for Harrison to turn back into a pumpkin, but instead, he's doing a really good Mark Buehrle impersonation. And with his 2nd complete game shutout of the year -- in the A.L., that ties him with Felix Hernandez for 2nd in the league, behind Brandon Morrow -- he lowered his ERA on the year to 2.87. Even watching Harrison, when he's on, he seems like someone who isn't pitching all that well, for whom it is just a matter of time before the other team's bats start teeing off on him...and then its the 7th inning and they still aren't hitting him. Its weird.
- Harrison, early on, didn't look like he'd be going 9 innings, or holding the M's scoreless. The Mariners got a pair of runners on in the first and the second innings, with a walk and a hit in each inning, but didn't do anything with those opportunities. In the fifth, Harrison allowed three runners on a single, a double, and a walk, but the single was erased on a line drive double play, so there was no damage. And then in the seventh, Tanner Scheppers started warming up when Harrison followed up a leadoff K with a single and a walk, but a 5-4-3 GIDP snuffed that out. But those four innings were it as far as baserunners allowed...Harrison either had a 1-2-3 inning or he allowed multiple baserunners, never allowing just one batter to reach in an inning. Its weird.
- The Rangers got all 4 runs and 10 of their 11 baserunners off of starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who went 5 innings. Four M's relievers combined to strike out five and allow a single run over four innings, so you can either be happy the Rangers took advantage of a scrub starter, or bemoan the fact that they got shut down for almost half the game by the M's pen.
- Adrian Beltre continues to hit, and continues to make opponents pay when they walk Josh Hamilton. In the top of the third, with the score 1-0 Texas, Elvis Andrus slapped a ball down the right field line for a one-out double, putting Craig Gentry, who had reached on a single to start the inning, at third base. The M's walked Hamilton intentionally to gain the platoon advantage and set up the double play with Beltre, and of course, it backfired on them, as Beltre
floated a ball softlygrounded the ball into shallow left field to bring in a pair of runs. That was one of three singles Beltre had on the day, with Gentry, who was 2 for 4, having the only other multi-hit day.
- Ian Kinsler got on base twice and scored twice. Kinsler started the game with a leadoff walk and ended up scoring on an RBI groundout by Hamilton, then took Iwakuma deep in the fifth for his tenth homer of the year. It was Kinsler's first homer since the June 27 13-9 win against Detroit (the game when Martin Perez made his major league debut), and his first road home run since June 8 at San Francisco.
- It is painful to watch Josh Hamilton at bats right now. He was 0 for 3 with a strikeout and the above-mentioned intentional walk, and is now 2 for his last 23, with his OPS on the year dropping below 1000 for the first time since early April. When Hamilton is going well, it is as if he can hit anything the pitcher throws, anywhere the pitcher might throw it, hard. When Hamilton isn't going well, it is as if he thinks he can hit anything the pitcher throws, anywhere the pitcher might throw it, hard.