ARLINGTON — The trouble with Harry?There’s no trouble, manager Ron Washington said.Two bad outings in a row by Matt Harrison, Washington suggested Saturday, don’t mean the Texas Rangers left-hander is destined to have a rotten season.Wash even stopped short of calling Saturday’s homer-plagued 8-4 loss to the Angels a lousy outing.“You take back a few pitches where he didn’t hit his spots, and maybe it’s a different game,” Washington said. “But today they came out and jumped on us.”Albert Pujols, for one, may be limping, but he can still jump. The Angels superstar, who served as the DH, is said to be currently bothered by (pick one):A. a sore heelB. a slow-healing right kneeC. bad karma from leaving St. LouisBut with two homers and three intentional walks Saturday, he looked like the same old menacing, $240 million Albert to me.While Harrison struggled with his first-inning command, Pujols and Mark Trumbo dug the Rangers into an early hole with two two-run home runs.Or as Washington put it, “Harry made some mistakes with location, and they made him pay for it.”After Friday’s home opener festivities, in other words, it was game on. It was meeting No. 2 of 19 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Texas Rangers of Arlington.Unlike Friday, booing appeared to be optional. The Josh Hamilton family, minus right fielder Josh, was safely tucked away in a complimentary suite — where, frankly, it should have been for Friday’s sold-out opener, too, if the Angels had only requested it a little sooner.I feel bad for Katie Hamilton and the girls. The rude fans’ behavior is inexcusable. But she chose to enter the fray by her December comments about the Rangers, and there were bound to be goons with bad intentions who were itching Friday to heckle anything named Hamilton.At least the Hamilton family had somewhere to hide. Alone at the plate, husband/dad Josh continued to look like a nephew trapped at an uncomfortable family reunion.In eight official at-bats in the series, Hamilton has no hits and has struck out four times. Shades of last September and October.Saturday’s soap opera was underscored by Washington’s insistence upon intentionally walking Pujols not once, nor twice, but three times, favoring the ensuing matchup of Hamilton against a lefty.The strategy worked. The hecklers loved it.But let Saturday be a reminder of what a load the Angels’ lineup can be. They bashed 12 hits, including four home runs.Yes, the prevailing zephyrs at Rangers Ballpark were again prevailing.As Harrison said, though, taking the high road, “It was windy for the both of us. [Tommy] Hanson just did a better job than I did of keeping the ball in the ballpark.“It was his day. It wasn’t mine.”This is typical Matt Harrison. Not the homers, but the humility and professionalism. He doesn’t dodge the media after a rough outing. Nor does he try to invoke physics or pop psychology — like, say, another lefty who used to pitch for the Rangers — to rationalize a subpar performance.“The wind was howling out pretty good early in the game,” Harrison finally said under prodding. “But with guys like that, you have to keep the ball down.”Harrison usually does keep his pitches down in the strike zone. His 18 victories a year ago attest to that.But as catcher A.J. Pierzynski said Saturday, “He was just up. And one thing about Harry is he’s got to be down. It was just one of those days.”For the record, April has always seemed to be Harrison’s cruelest month. In six seasons in the majors, the lefty has allowed opponents a .280 batting average in April, a .249 average in June, his best month. His career ERA for April is 5.05. For June, it’s 2.89.“Harry will be fine,” his manager assured Saturday.As for the visiting Angels, it’s game on. Two contests played between these two AL West contenders, and 17 more to come.Be forewarned: There may be booing . . . and home runs.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton