ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Matt Harrison may have had the most impressive opening start of the Rangers' rotation, and there may be reason for that -- his willingness to work the inside part of the plate more.
It was noticeable in a 5-0 win over the White Sox on Sunday night as he pitched six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and had three strikeouts.
"Once you have some success against some guys in, it shows that you're able to pitch inside," Harrison said. "Whenever that happens you're willing to do it more often. Once you start getting strikes in there, you start to open up the inner half. It's a lot better for you when command both sides of the plate and keep the hitters more uncomfortable." Harrison also said pitching inside should help keep his pitch count down. He won his first three starts last season then struggled through a four-start stretch in which he had a 6.75 ERA and averaged just over four innings per start. Pitching inside can help that.
"It makes the hitters more aggressive and they're going to swing earlier in the count," Harrison said. "That helps for quicker innings. That allows you to get deeper into ballgames."
Washington not worried about closer Nathan
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Thursday's game against Seattle that he is not worried about closer Joe Nathan pitching on consecutive days.
Nathan lost for the second time Wednesday, working in relief after pitching the day before, giving up three runs in the top of the ninth as the Rangers lost to Seattle 4-3. Nathan has two saves and two losses -- including one blown save -- in four appearances.
"Two things can happen: You get off good, you get off bad," Washington said. "We're going to support Joe Nathan 100 percent. Once he recovers from workload last night, he'll close. If he's in position to close a second night, we'll give him the ball." Nathan was not available to close Thursday, Washington said. Setup man Mike Adams seems to be the logical choice to replace him.
Nathan was adamant that working on consecutive days was not the reason for his failure to close out Wednesday's win. Washington agreed.
"Just some breaking balls up," Washington said. "[Seattle] may not be a prolific offensive team, but before they arrived here they had been putting up runs. They're capable."
The Rangers made an early season change in their bullpen during their run to their first American League championship in 2010, replacing closer Frankie Francisco with rookie Neftali Feliz.
Anyone thinking that was a knee-jerk reaction, or that Washington would make one with Nathan can stop right there, the manager said Thursday while backing the veteran Nathan.
"Frankie was replaced because he was hurting," Washington said. "He wasn't replaced because he blew two games and I decided to do that. Frankie was hurting. He wasn't Frankie Francisco. When Nefi took over, he did such a great job that when Frankie came back we were waiting for Nefi to fail and it never happened. That's a different situation."
Feliz went on to set a Major League rookie record with 40 saves, a record that was broken last season by Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, who had 46 saves.
Washington wants Andrus hitting to opposite field
ARLINGTON -- Elvis Andrus, who had Thursday's game off, is not suddenly going to become a home-run hitting shortstop even though he pounded a long ball left of the 390-foot sign in left-center field in Wednesday's 4-3 loss.
It was Andrus' first home run this season and the 12th of his career -- his season best is six in 2009. He has gotten stronger and Andrus talked before Wednesday's game about looking to pull more pitches with pitchers working the inside part of the plate on him. But manager Ron Washington wants Andrus to continue his approach of going to the opposite way to right field.
And Andrus did that in the final Rangers' at-bat Wednesday night. He lined out to first baseman Justin Smoak with a runner at second base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
"I want him driving the ball," Washington said, "Just not trying to drive balls for home runs."
Rangers hit 2 million tickets sold
The Rangers reached the 2 million mark in total tickets sold for this season on Wednesday night. It's the earliest the club has reached that mark since records first became available in 1999.
The Rangers had sold 2,046,072 season, group and individual tickets for this season as of Thursday. The club didn't sell its two millionth ticket until May 19 in 2011 and August 7 in 2010.
The Rangers are averaging an American League-best 39,133 fans for their first seven home dates.
• Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus' back-to-back home runs Wednesday marked the first time since Aug. 7, 2009 that the top two hitters in the Rangers lineup hit consecutive home runs (Omar Vizquel and Micahel Young).
• The Rangers are 17-22 in all-time road openers, including just 2-10 beginning in 2000.
• Round Rock OF Leonys Martin had a six-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday night going 0-for-4 with a walk.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.