ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Derek Holland takes the mound tonight at Angel Stadium, he won't be thinking about the last time he pitched in Anaheim. He'll focus on his start last week against Seattle, when he turned a rough early outing into a quality start.
"It was part of my maturing as a pitcher," Holland said.
He told himself not to look toward the Rangers bullpen shortly after allowing a home run in the third inning against Seattle last week. The homer made the score, 3-0, and Holland was clearly struggling to find a groove as he ended up with five walks. He avoided the temptation to think about other starts in which he exited early with command troubles.
"I know before I looked out at the bullpen and saw that someone was getting up in a previous start and it got me frustrated," Holland said. "So this time I didn't look and when I came out of the game after that inning, I realized nobody was up and it was good. It was good not to look and just focus on what I had to take care of. I knew it was possible, but I didn’t want to think about that."
With the bullpen getting heavy use the previous day, Rangers manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux stuck with Holland. The strategy worked as Holland settled down and despite a high pitch count early, got through six innings in what was eventually a 4-3 loss.
"They left me in there and I showed I could get out of jams and tough situations," Holland said. "I think that will help me the next time that happens. If that situation comes up, I can fall back on what happened before."
The last time Holland pitched in Anaheim was July 20 and one inning cost him. He pitched pretty well through the first five innings. But nursing an 8-3 lead in the sixth, he allowed hits to four of the first five batters, including two doubles, and was gone. By the time the inning ended, the Angels had the lead and ended up winning the game.
Holland isn't thinking about any of that now.
"I'm focused on what I need to do to win," Holland said. "I don't want to get caught up in my emotions. That was the other thing I did in my last start. After the third inning, you couldn't tell what was going on. You couldn't tell if I was winning or losing and that was the best thing for me."