Kauf Drops: Matt Harrison Exits, Leonys Martin Shines

by Todd K | Posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Matt Harrison - Colorado Rockies v Texas Rangers

Image: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr Columnist

toddmkaufmann@att.net

 

Right from the start Matt Harrison looked shaky. He allowed two base runners in the first inning and loaded the bases in the second inning but was able to get out of both situations without giving up a single run.

He settled in smoothly in the third but something still didn’t seem quite right. Harrison got through five innings without a scratch on his record and, during the home half of the inning, Fox Sports Southwest television cameras caught Harrison having what seemed to be a serious to heated discussion with coaches and trainers.

They took the left-hander down to the tunnel and about that time, an announcement was made that Robbie Ross was warming up in the Texas Rangers bullpen.

When Harrison didn’t come out for the sixth inning, immediately everyone knew something had to be wrong.

An update wasn’t announced until one inning later that Harrison had left the game with what was being called a sore left hip, later changed to lower back stiffness in his left side according to team doctors.

While Harrison was hurting, rookie center fielder Leonys Martin was shining for the Rangers on Sunday evening.

In his first two at bats of the night, Martin had a two-out RBI double and followed that in his second at bat of the night with a two-run triple for his second and third run batted in of the night.

Outside of the young outfielder, the only other player making any noise on this night was shortstop Elvis Andrus who had three hits in four at bats including two doubles.

Rangers Bullpen Steps Up

There are a lot of teams who struggle when they give the ball to their bullpen. Some nights they’re strong while there are other nights they couldn’t hold a five run lead or perhaps even more.

But, for the Texas Rangers, manager Ron Washington has a reason to have faith in any of the guys he brings in when he needs them. Young left-hander Robbie Ross has been a pleasant surprise thus far, having not given up an earned run since May 14th. Not to mention sporting a perfect 6-0 record and a 1.12 earned run average.

Even with Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara on the disabled list, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe and Joe Nathan, along with Ross and first year reliever Tanner Scheppers, have had to pick up some of the slack. But they have done so and kept this team in front in the AL West.

Adams sports a 2.88 earned run average after his one inning of work on Sunday and Nathan has been every bit of what the Rangers expected him to be when they signed him as a free agent prior to the 2012 season. Some questioned the move because of his age and the fact he went through Tommy John surgery just a year and a half ago.

Though Nathan struggled on Sunday night, giving up two runs in the 9th inning and, if not for bonehead base running by the Rockies, it could have been a lot worse.

Where is Michael Young?

That’s a question a lot of people have been asking recently, in light of Young’s struggles over the past few weeks. While there may be nights he’ll end up with a hit or two, there will be other nights where Young will be every bit of what a lot of fans are calling him on social media, “MY rally killer.”

Young had more than one opportunity on Sunday to bring in runners in scoring position. Even having a runner on first and third with one out before grounding into an inning ending double play.

While most will tell you he’s too good of a hitter to keep falling into this slump night in and night out, others are wondering if he’ll ever come out of hit. He’s shown the ability in the past to be the Michael Young of old, driving in runs, hitting doubles, and just being a pesky hitter to opposing hitters.

But, on nights like tonight, he was the guy the Colorado Rockies opted to pitch to instead of facing Adrian Beltre. A move that ended up working to perfection.

One has to wonder just how much the Rangers are willing to watch him struggle before they start including him in trade talks. Though, if this continues, his trade value might be nothing at all.

Mike Adams Pays Tribute

When Mike Adams came out in the eighth inning, he sported the initials “AK” on his hat. It was for his old bullpen coach, Darrell Akerfelds, who passed away from cancer earlier that day. While manager Ron Washington said during his post-game press conference that he had not had a chance to talk to Adams prior to the game tonight, he knew that his reliever had to be feeling a lot of emotions. “I know he had to be feeling something,” Washington said. “Akerfelds was a big part of Mike’s career in San Diego.”

Wash Post-Game Quotes:

On Matt Harrison: “We weren’t taking any chances. He wanted to stay in but we weren’t taking any chances. He will make his next start, there’s no assumption.”

On Robbie Ross: “We were hoping to get two [innings] from him tonight but we didn’t want to extend him any further. Robbie’s been good for us all year.”

On Tanner Scheppers: “Scheppers came in and threw the ball well down in the zone, something we’ve been trying to get him to do. He’s still in the learning process. There will be a point where we will want him to elevate. He’ll just have to figure that out.”

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