Confident Hinch stands by Harris

Confident Hinch stands by Harris

ARLINGTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch has the utmost confidence in reliever Will Harris, and that's understandable, considering the way Harris has pitched this season. Even against Prince Fielder, a dangerous left-handed bat, Hinch trusted Harris with the game on the line.

But Fielder tagged Harris for a tie-breaking two-run homer to center that was the difference in a 5-3 loss to the Rangers on Monday night at Globe Life Park. It was the second game-winning homer given up by Harris in the last three games. C.J. Cron of the Angels broke a tie in the eighth inning on Saturday with a homer off Harris.

"Will's a pretty good reliever," Hinch said. "He's had as good of a year as any of them. He's handled lefties, he's handled righties. He just made a bad pitch after falling behind. They did a good job hitting the ball out of the ballpark."

Left-hander Oliver Perez began the eighth inning with the score tied and retired lefty Shin-Soo Choo, a left-handed hitter. Hinch then brought in Harris to face right-hander Adrian Beltre, who singled to put the potential winning run on base. Fielder followed by sending a 3-2 fastball over the wall in center, just past the glove of Jake Marisnick.

"Trying to throw strikes," Harris said. "I got behind in the count against a good hitter. Was just trying to throw a fastball down and away and pulled it over the middle of the plate. He did what good hitters do. He made me pay for my mistake and won the game."

Fielder's OPS prior to the Harris at-bat was .100 points higher against right-handers than it was against left-handers, but Harris has handled lefties very well this season. Entering Monday, lefties were hitting just .135 against him.

"It's always easy to talk about some what-ifs after we know the outcome," Hinch said. "I'm not sure what the outcome would have been using the relievers any other way, but we've seen Will Harris get some big outs, and he's going to get some more big outs down the stretch here. He made a bad pitch."

Harris doesn't know the numbers, and he doesn't care. His goal was to throw strikes and get outs, and for the second outing in a row, he was left to digest a game-winning homer.

"Losing's not fun, especially when you're in a race like we're in," Harris said. "But we have a lot of really talented guys with a lot of energy that are ready to play tomorrow. Hopefully, I get a chance to get in there and do it right the next time."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.