Harrell delivers solid results in Rangers debut

Right-hander logs 6 innings to help secure sweep of Royals

Harrell delivers solid results in Rangers debut

ARLINGTON -- This was just one start by Lucas Harrell. The Rangers are going to need a minimum of four more before Colby Lewis and Derek Holland come off the disabled list.

But on a blazing hot Sunday afternoon, Harrell did his part in the postseason drive with a gritty quality start in a 5-3 victory over the Royals to finish a four-game sweep at Globe Life Park. Four relievers followed Harrell to nail down the Rangers' fourth straight win to put them six games in front of the Astros in the American League West.

"It was a gritty performance by him," manager Jeff Banister said. "He gritted it out. He's a grinder. He goes out and competes. That's what we need. It allowed our offense to get in the dugout and score some runs."

The performance came the day before the non-waiver Trade Deadline and at a time when the Rangers' discussions having veered in a new direction. Texas has constantly said it was focused on pitching, but on Sunday afternoon, it was engaged in discussions with the Brewers about catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

There are still no indications if the Rangers will close a deal for Lucroy and there is still a possibility they could get something done for starting pitching before Monday's 3 p.m. CT Deadline. The Rays still have left-hander Matt Moore and right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer, and the Phillies still have Vince Velasquez and Jeremy Hellickson.

But Harrell certainly made a strong first impression four days after being acquired from the Braves.

"I love it," Harrell said. "The atmosphere in the clubhouse ... they feel like they are never out of a game. No matter what the situation, they feel they are going to score runs. It's loose and fun ... it's exciting to be a part of."

Harrell yielded three runs in six innings, including a pair of solo home runs. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out two. He induced a pair of double-play grounders, which left him pumping his fist on the mound. He threw 94 pitches and only 48 were for strikes, so there was a little bit of living on the edge.

"Fifty-percent strikes is not how you draw it up," Banister said. "But he had life on the fastball, and he can land the curve and get the ground ball. He competes. All the things we've seen in the past showed up and allowed us to do the things we needed to do offensively."

Harrell finished strong to set up the back end of the bullpen. He took a 4-1 lead into the fifth and gave up a leadoff home run to Drew Butera and a walk to Jarrod Dyson. Raul Mondesi struck out, but Dyson stole second and third, and scored on a single by Alcides Escobar.

Harrell came back to get Cheslor Cuthbert on a fly ball and Eric Hosmer grounded out to end the inning. Harrell, with the temperature hovering at 98 degrees, then retired the Royals in order in the sixth before calling it a day.

"I'm just trying to give my team a chance to win," Harrell said. "This team is on a roll and in first place. My job is to get people out and keep the team in the game."

Harrell did his part on Sunday afternoon.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.