Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not a no-hitter feel

I came back from a "Meet the Rebels" function at Tascosa Monday night around 8 p.m. and turned on the Rangers-Twins game. It was the fourth inning and the Rangers led, 2-0. That's good.

With disappointing Rich Harden making another start off the DL, you take what you can get. An inning later, the end-of-the-inning graphic showed something that caught my eye. He hadn't given up a hit.

But he had been sloppy good. It had taken him 35 pitches to get through the first four hitters, though none had gotten a hit. He had already walked three and his pitch count was getting up, way up, which is not unusual for Harden. There was no way he was going the distance, no-hitter or not.

In other words, an effective, but not dominant performance against one of the hottest teams in the American League. If Harden had given up a hit in the first inning, I would have been thinking this is a pretty good performance from a guy the Rangers could really use.

But as far as no-hit drama, it just wasn't there.

After he issued his fifth walk with two outs in the seventh and his pitch count was at 111, Ron Washington did about the only thing he could do -- take him out. Some clueless fans booed taking Harden out, but they weren't going to risk Harden's arm.

So Matt Harrison and Darren O'Day got four outs in order and the Rangers to the ninth with a 4-0 lead. The ball went to closer Neftali Feliz. It was weird. The last multi-pitcher no-hitter in the Major Leagues was in 2003.

If Feliz doesn't give up a hit, do the Rangers go into a no-hitter celebration? Who do they jump up and down on? Feliz? He's the pitcher on the mound. Harden? He did the bulk of the no-hit work, but he's in the dugout.

All-star catcher Joe Mauer made it a moot point, though. He lined an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a hit with one out in the ninth.

Owner Nolan Ryan was in the park. The man has thrown seven of them, most in history, and been close on about eight others. He could relate to the near-miss, but when Nolan came close, he was on the mound.

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