Harrison blanks White Sox
Rangers lefty tosses four-hitter to pick up third victory
CHICAGO -- Matt Harrison tried to blink away what just happened. His right eye was bloodshot. Shaving cream still covered parts of his right ear and neck, the lingering effects from a plate he took to the face out on the field.
That was the thanks Harrison got after submitting a shutout in Chicago. The 23-year-old lefty won his third consecutive start on Friday night, leading the Rangers to a 6-0 victory over the White Sox.
Though he had trouble with his own postgame, Harrison has certainly opened some eyes. He's now thrown 19 straight scoreless innings, and he continues to become a more efficient pitcher. Harrison's ERA rose to 9.20 after a no-decision at Toronto on April 22, but he hasn't lost since then. That run includes two wins over the White Sox.
On Sunday in his previous start, also against the White Sox, Harrison burned through 100 pitches in five scoreless innings. But this time he was more economical against a dangerous Chicago lineup, needing only 111 for the game.
"I just kept pounding the fastballs in and out and using my changeup," Harrison said. "If they made an adjustment, I would make one, but they didn't, so I just kept doing the same thing I did last start."
Harrison -- and the support he received -- drained the suspense from this game in front of 21,326 fans. He did not allow a runner to reach second base until the sixth, when he walked Jayson Nix and gave up a single to Chris Getz. Harrison then forced Josh Fields into an inning-ending double play.
"[Harrison's] got a little bit different delivery. It's a bit more sped up," Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden said. "I think basically what it's doing is creating a little bit of deception, and the bottom line is [he's] getting ahead of hitters, he's keeping the ball down.
"He's not getting a lot of good swings on balls, for whatever reason. He's able to get a lot of quick, easy outs. [Guys] just [aren't] squaring up on the ball at all -- a lot of popups, a lot of ground balls to second base."
Across Friday night Harrison scattered four hits, striking out five while walking just one. Outside of a ball Nix drove to the left-field wall in the eighth -- David Murphy caught it -- the White Sox didn't generate much power. Harrison retired 11 batters in a row between the second and sixth innings.
"I think the differece was [Chicago's] aggressiveness," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They're a very aggressive-swinging team and they [were] jumping on a lot of first pitches, and they [were] jumping on a lot of second pitches and you got to give Harry credit -- he was in the strike zone, and they didn't want to fall behind him.
"Harry got good stuff. He's always had good stuff. He'll tell you [that] he played on the edges. [He's] stopped playing on the edges and [started] making them swing the bat and put the ball in play."
Meanwhile it took only 10 minutes after the first pitch before the impatient crowd at U.S. Cellular Field started booing White Sox starter Jose Contreras, whose night ended in the fourth inning after Omar Vizquel's RBI double to the right-field corner made it 5-0.
The Rangers took advantage of the wildness Contreras displayed across 3 2/3 innings. In total, Contreras allowed five runs -- three earned -- on six hits. He threw two wild pitches, one of which scored Chris Davis in the second, walked two and hit a batter. That was too much for Chicago to overcome on a night when Harrison was so sharp.
"He's mixing in-and-out and elevating when he needs to," Teagarden said of Harrison. "These last three starts he's just been attacking the strike zone, and in a lot of ways hitters are getting themselves into situations where they're 0-1, 0-2, 1-2. He's able to put them away."
Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.