ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
As we talked about on these very pages on Thursday, the Texas Rangers were very much in need of a lengthy outing from starting pitcher Derek Holland, the on-again-off-again starter who can be really, really good and really, really bad.
The Rangers got more than they could've possibly expected from Holland, as he tossed a two-hit, complete-game shutout to lead the Rangers to a 2-0 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon, securing a series victory and helping Holland exorcise some past demons from pitching in The Bronx.
"It's huge," Holland told ESPN Dallas. "I haven't had great success against these guys. To be able to come in here into Yankee Stadium and give up only two hits in a shutout, that's very, very big, and it's a good boost to the confidence as well. I came into an unbelievable ballpark and [faced] a great ball club and made a statement."
The Yankees weren't the '27 Yankees, the '97 Yankees, or even the 2010 Yankees. In fact, as bad as the Rangers' lineup looked like it could be on Thursday, the Yankees looked even worse. Heck, Vernon Wells — yes, Vernon Wells — was hitting cleanup for the Pinstripes.
But Holland still dominated on a day when an overworked bullpen was in desperate need of it, after Yu Darvish and Justin Grimm had both failed to get out of the fifth inning in the two previous games and forced the Rangers' winning bullpen (Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan) to work.
On Thursday, the Rangers needed a grand total of zero relievers as Holland turned in an extremely efficient outing, needing just 92 pitches to navigate through the nine innings of scoreless work, extending his scoreless-inning streak to 14 innings.
Holland's biggest start of his career was without a doubt in the 2011 World Series, when he worked 8 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 4 against the Cardinals, but Thursday might just have been his most impressive outing, with the size of the stage not considered in the equation.