Winds were blowing at 22 mph when Matt Harrison threw his first pitch Sunday, and he was working on a slider that he hopes to incorporate more during the regular season.
But even though it was his first outing this spring, he still wanted to do well.
Instead the All-Star left-hander allowed four runs on six hits in his Cactus League debut, and Kansas City scored twice late against the Rangers bullpen en route to a 7-5 victory at Surprise Stadium.
“It definitely wasn’t the way I wanted the first one to go,” said Harrison, an 18-game winner last year. “Even when you’re working on stuff, you still want to put guys away.”
The Royals sent nine batters to the plate in the first against Harrison, collecting five singles and a triple. Jeff Franceour would have had a home run if not for a strong wind that pushed down his drive to left field.
Harrison needed 40 pitches to complete the inning, and he didn’t return for the second. He was able to work ahead in the count but gave away at-bats by throwing sliders in counts when he threw changeups or sinkers last year.
“It’s the first game,” Harrison said. “It’s something I can work on now, and if it doesn’t work out, I can bang it.”
Leury Garcia hit a wind-aided two-run homer in the Rangers’ three-run sixth inning to forge a 5-5 tie and get Harrison off the hook. The Royals, though, scored once in the eighth and ninth, and the Rangers failed to score with a runner at third and no outs in the eighth.