Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rich Harden was the Real Deal on Monday

In 2002 I remember when I first heard the player name Rich Harden. He was part of Oakland A's Double-A affiliate, Midland Rockhounds for half the season. In 2003 he started the season back in Midland and in two games, both on the road, he pitched 13 perfect innings. I never get a chance to saw him because the A's quickly sent him up to AAA. His pitching dominance continued in AAA that saw him get a late season call up to Oakland. I took notice becoming a fan of him dubbing him "Real Deal" Harden. I bought and collected his cards and ordered his jersey. I knew he was All-Star in the making. In his time in Oakland he was wheeling and dealing on the mound. Despite having one of best young arms he has one problem: being healthy. Each year he spent time on the DL with an arm injury. After three half seasons with the A's and being a risk he was shipped off to Chicago Cubs, a team I loathe, in 2008. While he shined in the second half with the Cubs, in 2009 it was different story he was had up and down season finishing with 9-9 record with 4.09 ERA. Signed an one year contract with Texas Rangers hoping to live up the billing as the "Real Deal." Instead he struggled on and off getting pulled out of the games five times after pitching less than 5 innings. Also five times he pitched past the 5th inning and this was after 15 starts. He also dealt with the arm injury issue putting him on the DL for six weeks. Looks like his shining star was fading fast and so was his "Real Deal" moniker. Then came Monday pitching against the Twins in his 16th start. He became the "Real Deal" tossing 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball with 6 strikeouts before getting pulled. The no-hitter kept on til bottom on the 9th when Joe Mauer broke it up. While it was heartbreaking for him to lose a no-no yet it was great moment. On that night "Real Deal" Harden was the one I heard, read, and watched: a dominating pitcher on the mound. Job well done Real Deal.

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