Harrison dissects rough outing in Giants’ loss to Padres originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Kyle Harrison was in elementary school when Bryce Harper broke into the big leagues. If all goes according to plan for the rookie, he’ll still be in the big leagues when Harper shows up on Hall of Fame ballots one day.
You would think that Harrison, with a few days to think about it, would be OK with the fact that the first home run he allowed in the big leagues came to one of this generation’s greats, but as he sat down at Oracle Park earlier this week and talked about his debut in Philadelphia, Harrison said that wasn’t the case. “That’s just not me,” he said of that mindset.
“That’s just the competitive nature of a pitcher,” Harrison continued. “We want to be great every time we go out.”
Harrison reached that standard in his first home start, which was historic in a lot of ways, but on Saturday he got a reminder of how tough life is for MLB starters. If you’re off even a little bit, hitters will make you pay, especially hitters like the ones the San Diego Padres have. Harrison left some pitches up Saturday and the Padres hit four homers and put six runs on Harrison’s line in a game the Giants lost 6-1.
While speaking with reporters in San Diego after the game, Harrison said repeatedly that he didn’t give his team a chance to win. The Giants didn’t score until the ninth, so it certainly wasn’t all on a player making his third career start, but he took it hard.
“I’d say I’ve had my fair share of these nights but ultimately at this level, it’s different. That’s not acceptable in my eyes, going out there and giving up six,” Harrison said. “That’s not really giving the ballclub a chance to win. I’m just going to put my head down and figure out what was bad this outing and try to give my best the next one.”
Harrison’s competitiveness is part of what had Giants officials so excited about the top prospect over the last couple of years, and when he got roughed up a bit this spring, some quietly felt it was a good thing for his long-term development. Harrison had dominated the low minors and the Giants felt it was a positive to learn how to deal with failure.
It’s a bit tougher when you’re trying to learn lessons as your team is fighting for a playoff spot, but manager Gabe Kapler didn’t see anything Saturday that concerned him. Harrison got beat by a good group of hitters, and Kapler relayed that message to the rookie after the game.
“I’ve seen him when it’s not going to work,” Kapler told reporters in San Diego. “I saw him in spring training and there were outings when he didn’t have his best stuff or he was (missing big) and falling behind in counts and walking dudes. During those times, I thought to myself, ‘Kyle’s not ready. This is not going to work.’ And I can say the same for some of his outings in the minor leagues.
“But what he did (tonight) is going to work. I’m very confident it’s going to work. A couple guys who are some of the best hitters out there did some damage against him and then he fell behind Garrett Cooper and Garrett Cooper is a pretty good hitter against lefties and made him pay on his last pitch of the night. But if he goes out there and he fills up the zone and he’s efficient the way he has been the last couple of times out, I’ll hammer that that’s going to work over a long period of time.”
Harrison’s line was ruined quite a bit by what happened on his final pitch. After giving up three solo homers in the first two innings, he settled in and efficiently got into the sixth, something he had not done all year before his two starts this week.
Harrison threw a season-high 91 pitches on Monday and his 91st pitch of the night Saturday was a 92 mph fastball that Cooper hit out to left. It was one of his slower fastballs of the night, and with one swing, Harrison went from potentially having a quality start to having six runs on his line.
Harrison felt his execution was lacking, but there still was plenty to like, especially the way he went after Juan Soto in the third inning after Soto had homered on an inside fastball in the first. Harrison twice threw up and in and Soto looked back at the mound. After the game, Harrison said he wanted to get Soto off the plate a bit.
Harrison got Soto out in the third and again in the sixth, but three batters after that last matchup, Cooper went deep. That was far too big a hole for a Giants lineup that has an OBP under .300 in the last 20 road games and has won just four of them.
Harrison’s next start will come at home, and it will include an extra day of rest because the Giants are off next Thursday. But Kapler didn’t think fatigue was a factor against the Padres.
“He’s built for this,” he said. “He’s a big, physical, strong guy. He’s young and capable of bouncing back. Through every point of the game that we talked to him, he felt great and the stuff looked great. Not even a little bit.”
Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast