Derek Holland exorcises demons in Bronx

NEW YORK -- Derek Holland knew all too well about his ugly history against the Yankees.

Zero wins. Five losses. A robust career ERA of 8.85 against the Bronx Bombers, including an 8.06 mark at Yankee Stadium. Facing the Yankees had been a nightmare of sorts for the 26-year-old, and it became a motivating factor heading into Thursday's start against them.

"I haven't had great success here," Holland said. "My main thing was to make sure I could go out there and change it. It's a new year."

On Thursday, Holland certainly showed that it is indeed a new year.

Holland pitched one of the best games of his career and exorcised some demons against the Yankees, throwing a dominant complete-game shutout in the Rangers' 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium.

He's the first Rangers pitcher to hurl a complete-game shutout in the Bronx since 1993, and the two hits he yielded are the fewest allowed by a Rangers starter in a complete-game shutout against the Yankees. Holland is also the first Rangers since 2002 to throw a complete-game shutout with two or less hits.

"It's huge," Holland said. "I haven't had great success against these guys. To be able to come in here into Yankee Stadium and give up only two hits in a shutout, that's very, very big, and it's a good boost to the confidence as well. I came into an unbelievable ballpark and (faced) a great ball club and made a statement."

Holland allowed a single to Ichiro Suzuki to start his afternoon, but surrendered just one more in the following 28 plate appearances. The Yankees' final hit was a single in the third by Austin Romine and their final base-runner came in the seventh inning on a walk. Holland breezed through the game, throwing just 92 pitches as he navigated the weakened Yankees lineup with ease.

Rangers catcher Geovany Soto praised Holland for being able to hit all his spots and throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes. Soto said Holland kept the ball down in the zone and called his command "excellent." Holland threw 63 of his pitches for strikes and issued just a pair of walks. The Yankees only advanced one runner into scoring position.

Holland has thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings dating to his previous start against St. Louis.

"I thought I did a great job of staying on the outer thirds of everything," Holland said. "When you're going up against a ball club like that, they're very patient, it's a hard ball club to strike out. I thought I did a good job of staying outside the zone and the middle and getting what I could out of that."

In going the distance, Holland, who improved to 6-4, saved a taxed bullpen that had been worked hard as of late. Holland said he aimed to help out the bullpen as much as possible, and giving the unit the entire afternoon off left Texas manager Ron Washington elated.

"I think Derek deserves a heck of a lot of credit for giving that bullpen a break. We definitely needed it," Washington said. "I think before the game started I said I'd like to see him go nine, and he did. I just wish I had that kind of magic in Powerball."