The baseball emphasis in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area -- and, come to think of it, around the country and even the world at large -- is rapidly shifting away from a successful opening weekend series and towards what might very well be the most anticipated major league debut in Rangers history, and, with that being the case, I'm not going to take the time necessary to spin a full-fledged narrative on last night's nationally televised affair ... but here are a few assorted bullet points, anyway:
● On a night where Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, and Adrian Beltre combined to pepper the right field-situated home run porch and home bullpen with a series of blasts that measured nearly 1,300 feet in the aggregate, Matt Harrison turned in what could objectively be considered as one of the greatest starts from a batted-ball standpoint of his major league career. The atmospheric conditions were conducive to problematic hard-hit balls and, in particular, potential drives over the fence, but Harrison counterpunched the issue by coaxing a ground-to-fly ball ratio of 13-to-4 -- signifying only the third time in the last three seasons that he has yielded so few fly balls while amassing at least 13 ground balls -- and allowing a single "well-hit" ball (by the reckoning of ESPN.com's Inside Edge scouting service) over the course of six shutout frames.
It's pretty easy to stare at results of this caliber and declare that Harrison was the blessed beneficiary of ample batted-ball luck, but a closer look indicates that his "luck" was indeed the residue of design: nearly half (49.5 percent) of his 103 pitches found the bottom third of the strike zone or lower, compared to a far more pedestrian composite ratio of 38.1 percent over the last three seasons, and Harrison spoke freely of a mechanical tweak that had allowed him to recenter his delivery and regain some command of his breaking pitches, which were an integral part of his assault upon the bottom half of the strike zone on Sunday night. Yeah, you'd still like to see him be more efficient than 103 pitches over six innings suggests, and three strikeouts against two walks is nothing to write home about, but he was in control, and he was good enough to win the game, and I'll happily take a start like that from Harrison any day of the week.
● The Rangers' middle relief corps was subject to considerable uncertainty over the course of this past off-season, as Koji Uehara was nearly traded at least twice, Mark Lowe was rumored to be on the trading block, and Robbie Ross only entered into the mix after wresting control of the token lefty-throwing relief spot away from Michael Kirkman during the spring. There were, and, to a significant extent, still are major questions about how each of those three are going to perform over the course of this season. But all three were excellent in their season debuts last night, with Ross in particular stealing the middle-relief show in his major league debut, and their continued effectiveness would certainly diminish the chances of Alexi Ogando and/or Mike Adams being run into the ground due to the coaching staff's ongoing terror at the thought of entrusting any kind of slim lead to the middle relievers.
● Over the first three games of the season, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, and Josh Hamilton have combined to hit 14-for-31 with seven extra-base hits and a composite wOBA in the general vicinity of .550. Everyone else is hitting a combined 8-for-63 with one extra-base hit and a composite wOBA in the mid-100s, to which I say ... well, whatever. Perfect synchronization coming right out of spring training is a nice idea in the abstract, but it's also kind of unrealistic, and while I'd prefer to see a more even offensive distribution that what you'll get when you have three players alone carrying the offense on their backs, it'll do for the moment. They'll get there.
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