Tonight it will be up to Matt Harrison to keep the good times rolling as the Rangers seek to push their modest win streak to three, while securing their fourth win in five games.
Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:
Texas Rangers (36-26)
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
RF Brandon Snyder *
CF Craig Gentry
LH Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)
This is Harrison’s first time to face the D-Backs at home in Arlington. He pitched against them once at Arizona’s Chase Field, and it didn’t go so well—he only lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs, all earned while walking four and striking out just two…thus he’s 0-1 with an obnoxious 17.18 ERA versus Arizona.
Hey, it’s a small sample size.
Harrison is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA at home this year as opposed to 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA on the road. His road ERA is helped out considerably by his masterful performance against the San Francisco Giants last week—Harri pitched a complete game shutout while scattering just five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
As is the case with most southpaws, Harrison prefers facing left-handed batters. Lefties on the year are batting a paltry .151 off of him whereas righties are hitting .309.
Harrison has won his last four straight games and a win tonight would give him the team lead with 9.
* This is Brandon Snyder’s first start of 2012 in right field for the Rangers. Nelson Cruz is still under the weather and Washington prefers to sit 1B Mitch Moreland against left-handed starters.
Arizona Diamondbacks (30-31)
SS Willie Bloomquist (.400 BA against Harrison)
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton (.500 1 HR 2 RBI)
1B Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State)
DH Jason Kubel (.250, 1 RBI)
CF Chris Young
C Miguel Montero
3B Ryan Roberts (L.D. Bell HS)
LF Gerrardo Parra
LH Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5.5 K/9)
This is Miley’s first time pitching at RBIA and the only current Rangers player he’s ever faced is utility man Alberto Gonzalez, who is 1-for-1 with an RBI against him.
Miley was a first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2008 (43rd overall pick) and has been quite a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this season. He’s pitched like an ace at times, and has filled in nicely for Daniel Hudson who has had been injured most of the year.
Whether on the road or at home, Miley’s splits are quite consistent. He’s 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA at Chase Field and 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA when pitching para llevar.
Much like Harrison’s excellent previous start, Miley had a fine outing against the Rockies last week. He surrendered one run and little else, as he went the distance scattering just three hits while waling none and striking out five.
When Miley is on, he’s exactly the type of pitcher that can give the Rangers fits. He has great command of his off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance, and Texas has traditionally had trouble with southpaws in general.
Keys to a Rangers win:
In last night’s win, it took the Rangers a few times through the order to figure out Ian Kennedy. Once they started to lay off of his changeup, they forced him to throw more fastballs in the zone, which they subsequently pounded.
Look for a similar approach tonight from the Rangers against Miley. Miley isn’t exactly a soft-tosser, but if he gets too many heaters in the zone the Rangers should be able to jump all over him—granted they don’t let him get ahead in the count.
Likewise for Matt Harrison, it will be important for him to minimize the damage that Ryan Roberts (.279/.338/.471, 3 HRs) and Paul Goldschmidt (.379/.440/.712, 4 HRs) can impart on left-handers that get behind in the count.
I think the Rangers bats are close to getting back into a consistent groove. I also feel that Miley might not like the unforgiving alleys—not to mention the infamous jet stream—that RBIA a true hitter’s paradise …Rangers win 6-3.