ARLINGTON, Texas -- Perhaps a Texas starter was due for a dud after the Rangers pitched well enough to have a legitimate shot of winning every game during their 13-3 start.
You just didn’t expect it to come from Derek Holland, which speaks to the wild-haired 25-year-old's rapid maturation within the last year, when he morphed from a roller coaster to a rock in the Rangers’ rotation.
Then again, the New York Yankees are in town, so maybe it shouldn’t be considered a shocker that Holland got roughed up in the Rangers’ 7-4 loss Monday night.
The outing snapped Holland’s personal winning streak of eight games, including his spectacular World Series performance, but continued his bad run against the Bronx Bombers. Holland is 0-5 with a 9.53 ERA against the Yankees in his career, although he tersely said he doesn’t read too much into those nasty numbers.
All due respect to the Yankees’ loaded lineup, but Holland simply didn’t pitch well in front of the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
“It’s been a while,” manager Ron Washington said of Holland’s poor performance. “He’s been very consistent. And once again, you know, that’s a pretty good lineup. They do their business in that batter’s box. If you’re a little bit erratic and not hitting your spots and doing what you’re supposed to do, they make you pay.”
Sure, future first-ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter deserves credit for his four hits off of Holland, including a double that scored the Yankees' seventh run. And Alex Rodriguez, whose case for Cooperstown is clouded only by his admitted steroids history during his Rangers days, hit a towering blast into the visitors’ bullpen that blew the game open in the fifth inning.
But the Yankees’ bats, which beat up Holland for nine hits in his six innings, had nothing to do with the Dutch Oven’s biggest problem. He struggled with his command, allowing four walks, including a free pass to No. 9 hitter Chris Stewart to lead off the disastrous fifth inning.
“I’m pretty upset with myself,” said Holland, whose ERA soared from 3.10 to 4.78 after his first non-quality start of the season. “I didn’t battle as well as I usually had been before. The walks are what really killed me.”
Washington wasn’t too upset with Holland. In fact, the skipper sought the silver lining, saying that one bad inning was the difference in the game and praising Holland for putting up a fight despite the poor command.
The plan was to pull Holland after that awful fifth inning, but Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux changed their minds, wanting to save the bullpen as much as possible with long man Scott Feldman scheduled to make a spot start Wednesday. Holland gave the Rangers one more inning -- and gave up one more run -- before hitting the showers.
“He’s a tough kid,” said clubhouse leader Michael Young, who delivered what appeared to be a pep talk to Holland in the dugout after the sixth inning. “He’ll bounce back. He’s getting to be a real professional right now. He’ll make his adjustments, watch his film. He’ll be ready to roll in his next start.”
Added Holland: “It’s not like the end of the world because I had one bad start.”
No, it just ended a couple of impressive trends. And it extended a trend for Holland against the Yankees that isn’t exactly encouraging.