Sunday, April 3, 2011

Texas Rangers Ride Matt Harrison, Long Ball to Sweep Aside the Red Sox

If Texas Rangers fans wanted to see what their team was made of, all they had to do was be one of the more than 140,000 that made the trek to Rangers' Ballpark.

Not only did the Rangers put the bats, and the arms, to the Boston Red Sox who looked like the perennial favorites in the American League, they did it in dominating fashion.

“We got outplayed all the way around,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Associated Press. “They hit better than us, they pitched better than us. Now we’ve got to regroup and get us a win so we can feel better about ourselves.”

The offense exploded for 11 home runs and outscored the Red Sox 26-11 over the three game series. According to the Associated Press, the Red Sox fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1996 when they lost each of their first five games.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder Nelson Cruz each connected for home runs, their third in as many days becoming the first set of teammates to do so in Major League history. David Murphy his his first of the season and Mike Napoli connected for his second. But they weren't the only ones who had a big day.

Left hander Matt Harrison, making his first start for the Rangers, pitched an absolute gem. Contrary to the opinions of Gregg Williams and Richie Whitt of 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, Harrison didn't need just his name to scare off the Boston hitters. His cutter seemed to do the trick.

Harrison went seven innings allowing one run on just five hits, walked two, and struck out a career high eight batters. Relievers Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz closed out the final two innings and did so without allowing a single hit.

“I knew if I hit my spots and mixed the speeds up, I was going to be able to keep them under control,” Harrison said after the game. “I’m definitely going to take this one and look back on it next time out. … It was just a good mix of everything. They really couldn’t sit on anything. I was able to throw three or four pitches for strikes today.”

This three game series was as dominate as the Rangers have looked in a long time. After coming off a disappointing World Series defeat at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, they seemed to come into this series with a sense of urgency and wanted to prove a point right off the bat.

They did so with power in the lineup and strength in both the rotation and the bullpen. Sure a lead was given up on Friday but they didn't quit and they found a way to overcome any obstacle in their way.

This team has solidified their place in the American League and proved all those picking the Red Sox to win should re-think that pick.

“It just makes a statement that we’re here to try to duplicate last year, that we can do it against anybody,” outfielder David Murphy said after the game.

If I'm the Seattle Mariners I'd be shaking in my boots and would be wondering if they shouldn't just hand the Rangers a three-game sweep so they can move on to whoever is next.

But, since it's not something that can be done, the Mariners will make their way to Arlington for the first of a three-game set beginning on Monday night.

Alexi Ogando will go on Monday, making his very first start as a Texas Ranger. Derek Holland will take the ball on Tuesday night and C.J. Wilson, the team's ace, will anchor the series on Wednesday.

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann on Twitter or find him on Facebook

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