4/12/09: L-O-T-D – Aaron Harang

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Aaron Harang (1-0) 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO – 1 CG ShO

While pitching a dominant complete-game shutout against Pittsburgh on Sunday, right-hander Aaron Harang made life easy for his Reds colleagues — well, for most of them anyway.
Harang’s performance certainly didn’t leave Reds manager Dusty Baker with any simple options as his squad entered the top of the ninth. Sure, Harang eventually secured the 2-0 win for Cincinnati with his dominating three-hit, nine-strikeout performance. But Baker wasn’t sure what to do about his game plan entering the final inning.

“If it’s 3-0 or 4-0 — or 6-0, like it should have been — there’s no question,” Baker said. “But 2-0 in our ballpark with guys that can reach the fence … you just want that last strike to be thrown. Aaron was masterful, and it’s a tough position for the manager. Take him out and something happens, or leave him in and something happens.”

Baker knew Harang’s opinion about the matter without having to ask his 6-foot-7, 261-pound ace — “He was going to have to drag me off the field,” Harang said with a laugh — and Baker allowed him to take the mound in the ninth.

Although Pirates left fielder Nyjer Morgan, who reached base three times on Sunday, singled with one out, Baker never left the bench. Harang then coerced Freddy Sanchez to fly out and struck out Nate McLouth to end the game and seal the sixth shutout and 12th complete game of his career.

Last year Harang was 6-17 with a 4.78 ERA, while two years ago was his best in the bigs, 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA. It looks like Aaron is back!

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