FEBRUARY 24, 2009: A clean cut Derek Holland in his first team portrait for the Texas Rangers.
We discussed it on Wednesday, saying Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland needed to bounce back from a not-so-good outing last week in The Bronx. Though Holland's final line (5 2/3 innings, 5 R, 4 ER) did not look good, a lot of that was chalked up to one bad inning, and a lot of that was chalked up to shaky defense behind him.
Before that, Holland was great against Detroit in what was his best start of the season. Holland took the mound again on Wednesday night in a rubber game against the hard-hitting Baltimore Orioles and looked good once again, bringing back some memories of the late-2011 version of Holland.
On Wednesday, Holland went 7 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. The most impressive part about his outing was that he held onto the intensity even after the Rangers put up nine runs in the fourth inning to make it a blowout early on. Holland kept up his intensity, pitching like it was a tight game and making his pitches when he needed to make them.
"The main thing I always tell myself is to have a boxing mentality," Holland told reporters after the game. "I just go downstairs to cool myself and take my two minutes like a boxer would. I kept telling myself it’s a 0-0 lead. Just because you’ve got a big lead, you can’t relax. That’s when things go wrong for me, when I go, ‘Great. I’ve got a 10-run lead,’ I’ll just kind of cruise. I was trying to make sure I didn’t do any of that. Wash was joking around with me down there, too, like, ‘Stay uptight. Don’t get too loose. Just go out there and do your business.’"
If Holland can go out and string together 3-4 straight quality starts, that would be huge for the club's peace of mind moving forward and could be evidence that we're about to get the Holland from 2011's second half once again — the Holland that made the greatest postseason start in Rangers history in Game 4 of the World Series last year.