ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was no stern message from Rangers manager Ron Washington or a tough-love session from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Derek Holland didn't need it. Instead, both Washington and Maddux in separate talks in the dugout told their young pitcher to forget about it and move on. That won't be easy.
It was ugly Wednesday for Holland. He gave up eight runs on eight hits in the second inning and left after just 1 2/3 innings, forcing the Rangers to use every bullpen piece but closer Joe Nathan to get through a 21-8 loss to Seattle. No, he wasn't blaming the mustache (which might have been the only thing more ugly than his start) he had shaved off earlier in the day.
"The mustache doesn't throw the pitches," Holland said, still clearly disappointed by his outing.
Holland was at his locker after Wednesday, never one to hide out from the tough questions on nights when he doesn't have his best stuff. And he was at a loss as to what happened to the guy who threw 10 pitches (eight of them strikes) in a perfect first inning that included two strikeouts and then followed that up with a hit parade in the second. He threw 41 pitches in the second, faced 12 batters and gave up eight runs on eight hits.
The outing was his shortest since Aug. 5, 2011, when he went 1 2/3 innings against Cleveland. The only other time Holland has allowed at least this many runs in a start was his rookie year, when he gave up 10 to Toronto on Aug. 31, 2009.
"I felt like I had everything going for me," Holland said. "I thought for sure today was the day. I came back out and 'blank' hit the fan. It's unbelievable. Things just didn't go my way. I didn't get the job done."
Holland was one strike from limiting the damage in that troubling second inning. He had a 2-2 count on left-handed hitter Dustin Ackley and threw a sinker inside.
"I think he was probably looking for that pitch," Holland said. "I've always gone in on lefties, and I think he was dead red on it."
Ackley hit it out to right for a three-run homer, making it a 5-0 game. Holland's shoulders slumped, and he couldn't seem to get himself figured out after that. He gave up singles to the next three batters, and then walked Justin Smoak and Alex Liddi on nine pitches. At that point, Washington didn't have a choice but to make it an early night for Holland.
"I wish I could explain it," Washington said. "He couldn't find the strike zone, and when he did find the strike zone, they didn't miss. I can't explain it. It just wasn't a very good outing."
By the time the game was over, Holland had checked video of his start Wednesday with what he did against Toronto and couldn't see anything wrong with his mechanics. He'll go to work in between starts to fine tune things, but more than anything, he will have to mentally move past it.
Holland has battled inconsistency his entire career, except for the second half of 2011, when he appeared to steady himself and make adjustments quicker. That season finished with his sterling start in Game 4 of the World Series, and he earned a long-term contract this spring. But on Wednesday, he was not able to get things figured out and watched his ERA go up more than a full run, from 4.05 to 5.11.
"It's very frustrating," Holland said. "I wish I could say what I really want to say, but it's really upsetting to have something like that happen to you when you've been working so hard. It's one of those nights. I have to shake it off.
"I did not give my team a chance to win. I made it really hard for our bullpen. We had to really push them after using quite a few guys the night before. It's a big letdown on my part, I think."
Washington told Holland not to get too upset with himself about it and turn the page.
"He told me, 'Don't beat yourself up. Don't hurt yourself. Don't do anything crazy,'" Holland said. "Everybody has one of these days. It's OK to be upset with myself, but I have to bounce back now."
That chance will come next week against the Oakland A's.