We'll never know if Harden, who was replaced after throwing 111 pitches over 6 2/3 innings, could have finished the job himself.
Despite walking five Twins, Harden was having one of his best outings of the season.
But because of Harden's long history with injuries — he had just come off his ninth career trip to the disabled list — it is safe to assume that even trying to finish would have been foolish.
No fool, Harden did not expect to last until the last out.
"You could tell in the fifth inning," Harden said. "I just wanted to go out there and go as deep into the game as I could. I thought about it, but I knew my pitch count was up unless I started getting five-, six-pitch innings."
I feel bad for Harden. He's kind of like Peter Pan in that he'll never be able to grow up and pitch a complete game.
Harden's previous complete game came five years ago, back when he threw 100 mph as a matter of routine. Unfortunately for Harden, his gifts come with consequences.
There are limits to Harden's magic. He wasn't born a freak (respectfully) like team president Nolan Ryan.
Rangers manager Ron Washington probably pushed Harden too far, anyway. Back in June, Harden threw a combined 231 pitches in consecutive starts, then didn't see a major league mound again for seven weeks.
"I wasn't going to sit around and let him throw 120 pitches out there," Washington said. "The seventh inning was going to be his last one anyway."
He's right; 111 is nine short of 120. But any manager would be tempted to ignore caution with a no-hitter going. To a point.
(A question for later: If Harden is Pan, will Hunter play the role of "Wendy" when trying to convince Cliff Lee to stay in Neverland? And who's Tinker Bell? Is it pitching coach Mike Maddux?)
* * *
Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave