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On Harden's Near No Hitter

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As we all know, the Rangers nearly threw a combined no hitter last night with Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Darren O'Day and Neftali Feliz before Mauer's one out, ninth inning single ruined that. Ron Washington decided to lift Harden with two outs in the seventh right after Harden issued his fifth walk of the game and threw his 111th pitch of the night. Yes, we all know Harden is injury prone, and yes, the Rangers needed to win the game. Still, I'd have left him in. 

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Harden isn't going to become more injury prone if you let him throw another 20-30 pitches. He's already as fragile as it gets and another two innings of work, or the first hit, isn't going to cause him irreparable harm. 

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From a strategic standpoint, the tying run wasn't even at the plate. The Rangers had a three run lead and Harden was flirting with destiny, granted, sloppy, inefficient destiny, but a no hit bid nonetheless. Yeah, winning the game always comes first, but I'd have given Harden another runner before pulling him. Even if he surrenders a home run, the Rangers still would have had a one run lead. 

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Feats like a no hitter, despite being more common this year, are (typically) once in a life time feats for these players. I'm pretty sure Harden couldn't even imagine throwing a complete game, let alone a no hitter. He had a chance at both last night and I'd have liked to have seen if he could somehow pull off the impossible and maybe sway the Rangers fans back on his bandwagon. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.