Holland's early-season dominance continues

CHICAGO -- Derek Holland’s early-season dominance continued as he delivered another impressive performance for the Texas Rangers. Holland lowered his ERA to 1.64 with seven innings of shutout baseball against the Chicago Cubs. Holland has pitched a minimum of seven innings in each of his three starts on the season.

“He’s really been locked in,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s been using all his pitches, keeping the ball down; he’s been moving it around the zone. The good thing about him is he’s been getting three outs. Derek used to have trouble getting that third one, but he’s found a way to get it.”

Washington was happy to see Holland settle down after a 27-pitch first inning in which three of the four batters he faced forced him to toss at least seven pitches.

Holland didn’t allow a bitterly cold evening -- the temperature was 39 degrees and dropping, with a slight breeze coming in from the Chicago lakefront -- to deviate from his game plan.

“You just gotta go out there and go after the hitters,” Holland said. “We both gotta battle it; to use the cold as an excuse is terrible. [Cubs starter Travis Wood] has gotta pitch in it, I gotta pitch in it. We just gotta make our pitches, that’s the main thing.”

Holland wasn’t about to come into Tuesday’s game overconfident against a Cubs lineup that has struggled mightily against left-handed starters.

“I never use that as an excuse, because anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Holland said. “It doesn’t matter how bad you are against one guy. I look at it as if I go out there and do my job, it’s gonna be hard for them. That’s what I want to do, make it as hard as possible for those guys.”

After Holland shut them down, the North Siders' line dropped to .144/.202/.216 when a southpaw starts.

A hot start from Yu Darvish has given the Rangers an impressive one-two punch with Darvish and Holland at the top of the rotation. It’s a welcome sign for a team that has been known for its bats during its recent playoff run over the past three seasons.

“We want our pitching staff to be recognized, because [the team has] always been known for hitting,” Holland said. “So our job is to go out there and do what we can as a pitching staff.”