GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The candidates for the Rangers' starting rotation just hit a big bump in the road. Maybe that's why the team hasn't officially announced that Neftali Feliz is going back to the bullpen.Matt Harrison was the latest to get knocked around, allowing four runs in four innings in the Rangers' 12-6 loss to the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Harrison is competing with Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando and David Bush for the final three spots in the rotation. In their last time out, those six combined to allow 30 runs in 23 innings. Ten of the runs were unearned, leaving them with a combined 7.83 ERA in that stretch. Prior to that, starting pitching was the highlight of the Rangers' camp.
2010 Spring Training - Texas Rangers
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Spring Training Info
"I don't know if they could have kept up what they were doing," manager Ron Washington said. "They've hit a rough spot, and now they have to work out of it."Harrison entered the game having allowed just one run in his first nine innings. He had also walked just two batters. But he walked the leadoff hitter in the first inning and that pretty much set the tone for four erratic innings. "From the get-go, I started off bad," Harrison said. "It took me until the fourth inning to find my release point and something I was comfortable with." Harrison ended up throwing 88 pitches over four innings, allowing four hits and four walks. He also hit a batter and threw two wild pitches. "I didn't put guys away when I had to," Harrison said. "Eighty-eight pitches is way too many pitches. It's a matter of staying in the strike zone a lot more." Said Washington, "He has been good for three and bad for one. This wasn't bad. He kept us in the ballgame." The Rangers have lost five of their last six games. The only win came against the Dodgers on Monday, when Feliz allowed one run over four innings in a 5-4 victory. Feliz starts against the Mariners on Saturday in Surprise. Rangers starters have had it rough of late, but nobody has had it worse than reliever Mark Lowe. He was knocked around again on Friday night. Lowe allowed four runs in one inning and has allowed 11 runs in his last four innings. He has a 14.14 ERA for the spring. "We're not out of spring yet," Washington said. "The season hasn't started yet. Obviously, he's not doing what he expected. We'll see what happens as we get closer. He'll get the ball three or four more times, and if he pitches well, these questions won't matter." The Rangers are less than two weeks away from Opening Day.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.