ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland has answered almost every challenge he has faced this season. In Friday night's 7-0 win against a Boston Red Sox team with baseball's best record, Holland showed he has gone to another level in 2013.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead and surely wondering if the offense was going to get him some run support, Holland pitched with determination against Red Sox No. 2 and 3 hitters Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, two of the main catalysts in Boston's 20-8 start.
Holland fought Victorino and Pedroia for 17 pitches in the fourth inning, never caving in against either hitter. Victorino did manage a single on the 10th pitch the Rangers lefty threw him. Pedroia struck out swinging on the seventh pitch he saw -- an 81 mph slider -- after fouling off four straight pitches and taking a slider for a ball.
Holland than put away the Red Sox for the inning and the game, getting red-hot David Ortiz, he of the 23-game hitting streak, to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Rangers offense finally came alive for five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Holland did work against the pesky Victorino and Pedroia.
"Those are two great hitters," Holland said. "I just kept trying to make my pitches. I never gave in. Those are two good guys, and I came out on top."
The Rangers did finally break out in a big way in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs on five hits. Adrian Beltre, who has been scuffling with runners in scoring position, cleared the bases with a two-out double for a 5-0 lead.
That finally gave Holland a cushion. He has started two games this season when the Rangers didn't score a run for him. The Rangers were averaging 2.34 runs per game for Holland entering Friday, the third-lowest total in the American League.
To his credit, Holland hasn't let that get to him -- another sign that he is maturing.
"I always go out there like I'm pitching in a 0-0 game," Holland said. "The guys were swinging it well tonight."
Holland has gone at least seven innings in five of his six starts. He has made two starts now in which he hasn't given up a run. Holland threw 112 pitches, 76 for strikes. He had all of his pitches working -- fastball, sinker, changeup and slider.
This is no longer a small sampling for Holland, who is 2-2 with a 2.74 ERA. He's poised for a big season.
"I was shocked when he took the ball in Minnesota and only had a 1-1 record," Rangers manager Ron Washington before Holland fell to 1-2 with a 7-2 loss to the Twins. "I thought he had three or four wins. He's been pitching well. We just need to score him some runs."
Holland delivered, and so did his offense, on Friday night.