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Lost in the teeth-gnashing about yesterday’s frustrating late loss to the Brewers was a tremendously impressive performance by a guy the Chicago Cubs desperately need to be tremendous this year: Rich Harden.

Harden, dogged by his torn shoulder and suspiciously low velocity, suffered through a terrifyingly poor Spring Training. We all reserved judgment, thinking, “It’s just Spring Training, he’s probably fine, and he’s probably just holding back.” But we all feared that it wasn’t just Spring Training. It was his shoulder.

Well, I don’t yet know for sure that his shoulder is going to hold up all season, but it – and he – looked incredible yesterday.

Starting pitcher Rich Harden reached 96 mph with his fastball Friday, according to the Miller Park scoreboard. Harden struck out 10 making it his eighth career double-digit strikeout game.

“I felt good out there,” said Harden, who has had a history of shoulder problems. “I wanted to bring some more intensity out there to start the season and get that extra little bit of adrenaline when it means something. Overall, it felt good, but it was a tough finish.” Daily Herald.

Yeah, he’s pissed about his win getting torpedoed by the Cubs bullpen (it is a contract year for him, after all), but for his time with the 2009 Cubs, the outing was a great success. His fastball had several more miles per hour of life on it, which is encouraging.

Now we wait to see how his shoulder feels after this game, in which he was clearly cranking it up.

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