Kyle Harrison

Harrison thrives under pressure in Giants' win over Pirates

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SAN FRANCISCO – Kyle Harrison felt much more comfortable relying on his slider again but it was his ability to dance in and out of trouble that stood out the most for the 22-year-old left-hander in the Giants' 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday at Oracle Park

Harrison pitched around traffic in four of the six scoreless innings that he worked against the Pittsburgh on Friday night, looking a lot like the No. 1 prospect he was when San Francisco brought him up to the big leagues last season.

Harrison allowed six runners to reach base via five hits and a fielder’s choice groundout. Three of those runners made it to second base, and two got as far as third.

None crossed home plate.

“It just comes down to execution at that point,” Harrison said. “You’re not being too fine, the pitches earlier you get hurt by them, and kind of bear down and see what you got. Compete mode, as we call it.”

Harrison acknowledged that he gets a jolt of energy when he’s able to escape jams while limiting damage. It’s the game-inside-the-game for Harrison. Do what you can, and if you get in trouble, bear down and find a way to get out of it.

“Earlier in the game his velo was down a little bit then all of a sudden he found 93 mph, 94 mph,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They were getting some decent swings on him in the first couple innings and then after that not at all. Got better as the game went along. I think that ended up being a really good game for him.”

It definitely was an encouraging outing for Harrison but a result that he’s become all too familiar with. It was his third no-decision in his last four starts, although it helped him shave nearly a full point off his earned run average.

Harrison, who grew up in the East Bay about 45 minutes away from San Francisco, had a 5.00 ERA through his first five starts of the 2024 MLB season, but trimmed it to 4.09 after his solid effort in Friday's win over the Pirates.

Harrison relied primarily on his four-seam fastball but got plenty of positive results with his slider. The young pitcher threw it 10 times for called strikes and got two swinging strikes off the same pitch.

“That was something I worked my butt off on in my last ‘pen, just trying to get back to the normal version of myself,” Harrison said. “I love the fastball but definitely want to mix it up. Just felt like today there were a lot of counts where it could be thrown, especially when I felt like I was able to execute in the top of the zone a little more.”

Giants catcher Patrick Bailey said Harrison was stellar for his entire outing, especially when the Pirates got guys on base.

“He’s a fantastic competitor,” Bailey said. “That’s probably the best I’ve seen him this year. Threw the breaking ball very well, the change-up was good, the fastball played well.

“There’s not much you have to say to him to get going. I feel like that’s when he’s at his best, when runners are on.”

Harrison was in the Giants clubhouse watching the game on television when Bailey delivered the game-winning hit.

“Saw it go over the fence and we were all hyped in there.,” Harrison said. “Patty’s the man.”

More outings like this one and fans will be saying the same thing about Harrison.

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