When the starting pitcher exits the game in the second inning, the offense gets shut out, and you lose 8-0 to the Houston Astros, it’s probably not your day. Such was the case Tuesday night for the Texas Rangers.
Matt Harrison gave up three runs, including a two-run homer to L.J. Hoes, before exiting the game with stiffness in his lower back after 1.2 innings pitched. After visiting the mound three times, it became apparent to manager Ron Washington that something was wrong with Harrison, and that removing him from the game would be the best option.
“We asked him how he was, he said his back was stiff, so I took the ball from him right there” said Washington. “You’re always concerned, but all we know is it’s back stiffness, and we’ll know more tomorrow.”
A healthy Harrison throws in the lower 90s, so reports that Harrison was throwing in the 80s initially raised concern. After walking back-to-back batters in the first, it became apparent that Harrison had lost control.
“I felt OK warming up, and then midway through the first, my back started getting a little stiff. And then as I went on going, it kept getting worse” Harrison said. “I felt my velocity going down lower and lower, and I knew my timing wasn’t right. It’s just a frustrating thing.”
Harrison will return to Arlington on Wednesday to have further evaluations on his back. With an already injury-plagued roster, now may be the time for Rangers fans to hope for a miracle. Or else, face the return of Joe Saunders.
Justin Germano came in to pitch for Harrison, and would give up the remaining five runs to the Astros. One run came in the fourth, after a Jose Altuve single was followed by a RBI single from Geory Springer. The other four runs came in the fifth, one off a RBI single from Hoes, and the other three off a Carlos Corporan three-run home run.
It was a complete game shutout for Astros’ starter Dallas Keuchel, who gave up seven hits, but was able to prevent any Rangers from making it past second base.
“He was changing speeds real well; when he had to make a pitch, he threw that sinker," Washington said. "We just couldn’t center in. Everything we hit, we just beat it in the ground. Gotta give him credit.”
Nick Tepesch makes his return to the majors Wednesday night, as the Rangers look to win the series against the Astros. Game time is slated for 7:10 p.m. CT.