So, the Rangers are back to crushing throats again (at least over the last five games, with three shutouts in that span where the team, as a whole, has looked quite impressive), the Metroplex lays in tatters after an unanticipated hail event, Matt Cain has authored one of the greatest games in baseball history, and Joaquin Arias is a borderline hero. Sounds like a pretty normal day, to me:
● What am I supposed to say about Matt Harrison, other than that he was simply Matt Harrison? Because there simply weren't many distinguishing or even especially interesting characteristics to his effort; he showed up, he threw lots of strikes, he missed hardly any bats, but he only walked two Diamondbacks hitters in 7.2 innings and induced a lot of weak contact, and it just so happened to be good enough to keep things knotted late into the evening, in a game where you absolutely felt that the first team to score would be the team that captured the win.
Harrison has now allowed just six runs in his last 38 innings, with 21 strikeouts against just seven walks and an even more impressive one home run allowed, and while he doesn't have the shiny long-term deal, he's handily outperforming a shelved Derek Holland right now, with a decent shot at surpassing the 4.0 fWAR benchmark for a second year in a row.
● Going into last night, the Rangers had dropped 181 of their last 190 games where they had scored just a single run, dating all the way to the outset of May 1994. That included a virtually unfathomable stretch where the Rangers went 3-94 when scoring one run between May 1994 and August 2004, with the skid finally being assauged when Chris Young, Carlos Almanzar, Brian Shouse, and Francisco Cordero combined to pitch a six-hit shutout in Anaheim on September 19th, 2004, as part of a desperate last-ditch push to claim the division title. In any event, the Rangers have already won two games this year where the offense plated just a single run, which isn't to say that scoring a single run is acceptable in any sense (even in a first look against a rookie pitcher) ... but, yeah, sometime it is good enough to win.
● Remember last year, when there was quite a bit of grousing about Yorvit Torrealba apparently being an inferior game-caller -- especially when stacked up against Mike Napoli? Via MLB.com's Christina Corona:
"I thought my aggressiveness and tempo were a lot better," Harrison said. "Torrealba called a great game. I was just focused on hitting his mitt and letting him call the pitches. We were on the same page and, fortunately, we were able to scratch one across in the eighth."
ESPN's Bryan Dolgin has expounded further upon the Torrealba point by eliciting some urgently positive quotes from Colby Lewis on Torrealba's game-calling (which he deemed "exceptional!", with an exclamation point), and he also spoke to Torrealba himself, who said that the issue last year was that he didn't have a great feel for his pitching staff and made matters even worse by putting too much pressure onto himself. There was a brief spate of infuriated teeth-gnashing over Torrealba a few weeks ago and some scattered calls on Twitter to just go ahead and cut him, but the highly complimentary tone that you're seeing the pitching staff express towards Torrealba's body of work this year is one of the big reasons why you won't see Torrealba going anywhere, even if the bat doesn't rebound into the low-700s OPS range yet this year.
● Last night's game was truly bizarre from an environmental standpoint, with hailstorms smashing the Mid-Cities and Dallas and a wall cloud (albeit without a discernible funnel) being sighted just miles from the Ballpark in the Grand Prairie region, and with the game being played in just two hours and 45 minutes even with a 29-minute rain delay wedged into the middle innings. It did, however, make for some pretty remarkable storm structure shots looking southeast from the Ballpark, with this particularly stunning shot being furnished by Gary Brown (@browngw78 on Twitter):
● Craig Gentry is now hitting .340/.411/.440 (.378 wOBA, 136 wRC+), and regardless of which flavor of the wins above replacement metric you prefer, he's been worth roughly two wins above replacement this year in just 51 games and 113 plate appearances. He is also able to tick 'game-winning hit' off his bucket list after last night's rousing (albeit somewhat lucky) go-ahead single in the eighth inning, and regardless of how unsustainable his current offensive run might be, he has has made a clear and emphatic statement with respect to his 25-man roster worthiness. I still feel that, in the long term, he is best suited for the role he occupies right now, but there's absolutely no reason to bench him against any left-handed starter at this point.