For the second time in little over a week, a manger was faced with the decision of pulling a pitcher from a game in which he is tossing a no-hitter.
On August 15, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pulled Kevin Slowey after seven innings of no-hit ball, and last night Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington was faced with a similar decision.
With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the seventh, and with Rich Harden working on a no-hitter against the Twins, Washington pulled Harden from the game.
I agreed with the decision Gardenhire made in Minnesota, and I 100 percent agree with the decision Washington made last night.
Harden was at 111 pitches when he was pulled. He is made of glass. He can barely stay healthy. This was a no-brainer.
In order for Harden to throw a no-hitter last night, he probably would have had to throw 140-plus pitches. If Harden threw 140 pitches, there would be a good chance his arm would literally fall off.
In all seriousness, the Rangers have much bigger fish to fry than Harden’s no-hitter. They are trying to win a World Series. A healthy Harden—whether in the bullpen or in the starting rotation—will only help.
If Harden can pitch down the stretch like he did last night, the Rangers will be even more dangerous in October. Though he can’t throw 95-97 anymore, his 91-92 mph fastball was just as effective last night.
Despite Harden walking five batters, I thought he had pretty solid control last night. A well-placed 91 mph is just as good as a 98 mph fastball right down the middle. He was hitting the corners pretty consistently against the Twin batters.
Could Harden have pitched to Jim Thome in the seventh? Sure he could have. But there was no reason to push him.
Then he had to face Joe Mauer—probably not the guy the Rangers wanted up at the plate in that situation. On an 0-2 pitch, Mauer ripped a single up the middle to break up the no-hitter.
Mauer is such a good hitter, it’s ridiculous. The pitch he hit was a high and away fastball that the mere mortal would have popped up to third. Mauer takes that pitch and ropes it up the middle.
The game finished with the four Ranger pitchers combining for a one-hitter and a 4-0 victory. While Ranger fans, especially the ones that were at the game, would have loved to see a no-hitter, pulling Harden was the right call by Washington.
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