ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was easy to forget about Derek Holland in Wednesday's 12-3 Rangers win. After all, while Adrian Beltre was hitting three home runs and Mitch Moreland was crushing a grand slam as part of a nine-run fourth inning, Holland was in the dugout.
But to the young starter's credit -- and kudos for manager Ron Washington for reminding him -- he treated the game like it was a tight one and pitched well, going seven innings and giving up three runs on five hits for his second quality start in his past three outings.
Outside of one tough inning in New York, Holland has looked a lot more like his 2011 form the past few starts. That's important for the club, which will need him come the postseason.
"I definitely feel like I’m in a groove," Holland said. "If I keep making my pitches, the defense is going to make the plays. Beltre made a lot of plays and also crushed the ball today. Overall, the guys are going to be on their toes if I’m going right after them. I’ve got to keep doing that, let my defense make plays and make my pitches."
Holland gave up one run in the third and two in the fifth, right after the Rangers scored nine runs in the fourth. Nick Markakis hit a two-run triple to score both runs. But Holland got J.J. Hardy to ground out and then pitched through the next two innings. Holland made sure to keep his mind right despite having the big lead.
"The main thing I always tell myself is to have a boxing mentality," Holland said. "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.’"
He did, and he's building some confidence.
"After we put up the nine-spot, he came back and they pushed a couple of runs, but after that he settled down," Washington said. "I think the night was one of his better nights, but he did have a good changeup working tonight. He was able to move his fastball in and out. He’s been throwing the ball well, hopefully tonight is the night to get him over the hump where he can be consistent."