SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Friday's game that he was not concerned about Rich Harden. But Washington did admit that he wanted Harden to "give us something to hold on to." Harden, off to a slow start this spring, may have done just that when his intensity kicked in and he started "finishing off" his pitches. That transformation came in the third inning of the Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Athletics on Friday afternoon.
Harden had a rough start to the afternoon but ended up becoming the first Texas pitcher to throw 100 pitches in a game. He finished with 102 over 5 2/3 innings and Washington confirmed afterward it was an outing worth embracing. "Definitely," Washington said. "He battled. He started getting some velocity going a little bit and he really competed. He gave up two runs in the first and then a home run, but after that he went to work throwing the baseball and doing exactly what he needed doing." Harden, who took an 11.25 ERA into the game, had a rough couple of innings, giving up three runs as seven of the first 12 batters he faced reached base on four hits and three walks. Then he struck out Jack Cust with the bases loaded and ended up retiring 12 of the last 15 hitters he faced. Two reached on walks and one was hit by a pitch. "I just picked up my intensity," Harden said. "The key was getting my off-speed pitch going with good action and arm speed. That got them off my fastball. That hasn't been there this spring and I had to get it going."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.