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Friday, October 7, 2011
Derek Holland ready even if family at home

By Jeff Caplan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers lefty Derek Holland won't complain about starting Game 2 of the ALCS in his home park, but he wouldn't have minded starting Game 3 closer to home.

Holland, from Newark, Ohio, would have had quite the fan club at Detroit's Comerica Park had Rangers manager Ron Washington selected him to pitch the first of a possible three road games in the Tigers' expansive ballpark. Instead of some 13 family members at Comerica, including aunts, uncles and grandparents, Holland will have to settle for his mom, dad and older brother in Arlington.

"If I could have really picked, it'd be Game 3," Holland confessed. Instead, he'll take the hill on Sunday against Detroit Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello

The Rangers' hard-throwing lefty will take the hill on his 25th birthday. His present? Facing a potent Tigers lineup for the first time in his career.

"I'm starting to look at them today," Holland said. "I wanted to wait until we figured out who we were playing against before I started getting my mind ready for who we were playing."

Speaking of Holland's mind, he continues to prove that he has moved beyond his struggles from last season and early this season when seemed to stunt his own progress because he would so badly beat himself up mentally. He has done a much better job of pitching through adversity and living to tell about it.

Perhaps no better evidence exists than Game 2 of the ALDS, his first postseason start, when he walked in the game's first run with two outs, but got out of the inning with no further damage. He wound up pitching just five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks, but he avoided a devastating inning and kept the Rangers in a game they eventually won, 8-6.

"I just felt like I was fine, I was throwing a lot of strikes, I was making my pitches, it was just a matter of executing and getting out of that inning," Holland said. "I know I've been known for that big inning or whatever, but I feel like I've done a better job of handling that now."

When he walked in the run, Holland said he simply stayed the course.

"I threw the right pitch, I threw what I wanted to throw it's just I got a little more action on it than I thought I was going to get. It's nothing to really worry about. It's just a walk. I know it cost us a run, but I knew it would take more than a run to beat us."