Harrison: We are experienced, ready
Rangers starter says last year's run has prepared team well
As our regular season was coming to an end, our club felt that we really wanted to finish the season strong. We were taking those games on a game-by-game basis, but we were also in a position to win home-field advantage, and that is something we didn't have in the first round last year.
Last year, we started on the road at Tampa Bay. We won both games there and then lost two games at home. For me, I think it would be fun to start it off in front of our home fans. To have them behind us will be a big plus, and maybe we can take those games and go from there.
Finishing strong during the regular season helps you with your momentum as you start postseason baseball. Each guy wants to go out and finish the regular season strong. We all want to be on the top of our game heading into the playoffs.
Last year, our team learned a lot during the playoffs. It was really about being in that atmosphere. Unfortunately, I didn't get to pitch in the playoffs last year. There is a lot more intensity in the games, and the fans are really into it more. I want to experience that on the field and not just by watching.
You can see that guys are a little more at ease right now compared to last year at this time. I think that comes with experience. We know what to expect when the playoffs begin. Last year, I think we did very well those first two rounds and then we saw more pressure during the World Series. We have pretty much the same team as we did last year, but I think we are now better prepared for that situation.
We are a close group and we always have each other's backs no matter what the situation. It is a great clubhouse, and I think what we experienced will only helps us this time around.
This year is also a good opportunity as it relates to our unfinished business from a year ago. We had some good opportunities the first games of the World Series. You can tell that since the first day of Spring Training, there has been a sense that we want to finish things this time around. By winning our division this year we have taken that first step. If we all stick together, we all play a part, we all play with our heads on straight, we all take it one pitch and one at-bat at a time, we will all feel good about our chances.
Going forward I don't know yet what my role will be when the playoffs begin. I have experience pitching out of the bullpen and as a starter, so I believe I know how to prepare myself for whatever role they have in mind for me. If it is as a starter, I have been doing all year, and I have a good routine in place. But if they need me in the bullpen, I know what I need to do to be prepared to go out there and get the guys they want me to get out. The key is still to throw strikes and throw strikes with my off-speed pitches.
It is also about being mentally tough, and I think I have grown and matured a lot in the last year. Hopefully, I can carry that into the playoffs.
Rangers left-handed starting pitcher Matt Harrison ended the 2011 regular season with a 14-9 record. His 3.39 ERA is the lowest mark of his career, and his 185 2/3 innings are also a career high.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.