Holland shows grit, wants one pitch back
"The breaking ball got too much of the plate and he left it up," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We all know what happens when you leave a ball up to Robinson."
This one, a 2-1 slider meant to go low and away and that wasn't low and away enough, was belted down the line in right and clanged off the foul pole in the eighth inning. The two-run home run turned a 3-2 Yankees' lead into an eventual 5-2 victory on a very cold, windy and wet afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
"I couldn't believe it," Rangers starter Derek Holland said. "The whole purpose of the at-bat was not to let him get anything good to hit. I thought it was going to be foul when he did hit it. But I was hoping to get a ground out or walk him and go after the next hitter. I didn't want to give him anything to hit."
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba came out to talk to Holland about that fact, noting that with Brett Gardner on deck, they didn't want to give Cano something he could drive.
But that pitch doesn't take away from the fact that Holland was able to steady himself after a rough first few innings in which he struggled with his command. The walk to Nick Swisher in the first was particularly bothersome because he was ahead 0-2 with 94 mph fastballs and then lost him.
"I tried to get to fancy," Holland said. "I was nitpicking."
The next hitter, Mark Teixeira, hit a 3-2 changeup to right field for a two-run homer that put the Yankees in front early. Holland walked Alex Rodriguez (yes, on a 3-2 count), but then got Cano to ground into an inning-ending double play. It was the Rangers' only double play less than 24 hours after turning a club-record six in Friday's win.
Holland also gave up a run in the third when a leadoff walk (on four pitches) to Derek Jeter, who has been struggling at the plate, hurt him.
"He made some adjustments and started getting after some guys," Michael Young said. "He got in attack mode, forced the action and made guys put the ball in play. One mistake to Robbie late in the game, that was it."
Holland's first two starts of the season came against the Mariners and Orioles, whose lineups don't compare to the Yankees'. So in some ways, Holland's ability to find a way to navigate through the difficult Yankee bats was just as good if not better than those previous two outings.
"I feel like everything went the way I wanted it to except a couple of pitches that got away," Holland said. "Nobody makes 100 perfect pitches. You have to tip your hat to them, they take care of the mistakes."
Washington had Darren Oliver loose and ready to come in during that eighth inning but liked the matchup with Holland against Cano, who had grounded out twice and struck out once against him in three previous at-bats. Washington said he was not worried about any "teachable moments" or anything like that.
"I wanted Derek to face Cano," Washington said. "He threw the right pitch, it was just in the wrong location and he left it up. That happens."
Holland threw 118 pitches, tying his career high. He'll get an extra day of rest now, thanks to the off day next Thursday while the team is at home. The homer to Cano was just the fourth time in his career that a left-handed hitter has hit a long ball off him and the first since Adam Lind on Aug. 31, 2009.
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