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Extra Bases: Rangers turn to Holland again

5/8/2013

It's up to Derek Holland to end another two-game skid for the Rangers.

This season Holland is pitching like he can be a stopper.

Holland ended a two-game losing streak last Friday against Boston. The Red Sox came to Arlington with baseball's best record and Holland delivered eight shutout innings. The Rangers won 5-0.

Holland's biggest area of improvement has been keeping the ball in the park. He has allowed just two home runs in 42 2/3 innings. Last season Holland was good for an average of more than a homer allowed every outing, giving up 32 long balls in 27 starts.

The key has been the return of his changeup, which he says he hasn't had this good of a feel for since he was in the minor leagues. It has allowed Holland to keep opposing hitters off balance.

Holland has been a rock in the rotation, going at least seven innings in five of his six starts. He gets another chance to pick up his club Wednesday night.

Other notes:

Ross, Scheppers dominate: Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers are quite a battle for the lowest ERA in the bullpen. Scheppers has a 0.56 ERA and Ross lowered his to 0.61 after a perfect inning in Tuesday's loss. Both were in the top eight among relievers with a qualifying ERA entering Tuesday.

Sloppy defense: The Rangers' defense has been brutal to start the road trip. They snapped a seven-game streak without an error with two against Chicago in Monday night's loss. Then Nelson Cruz and David Murphy failed to catch fly balls in the first inning of Tuesday night's 6-3 loss against the Brewers. Both plays should have been made. Starter Justin Grimm also failed to execute a pick-off play at second base.

Still in first: The Rangers have been in sole possession of first place for 17 days and didn't lose ground Tuesday night as all of their division rivals -- except for Houston -- lost. Cleveland beat Oakland 1-0 as the A's remained 2 1/2 games out of first and may be losing outfielder Josh Reddick to the disabled list because of a sore wrist. And the Angels allowed the Astros to pick up their first comeback victory of the season with a 7-6 loss at Minute Maid Park. Former Ranger C.J. Wilson allowed six runs and a crushing three-run home run to Chris Carter in the loss.