It wasn’t quite Nolan Ryan’s no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays circa 1991, but Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland's shutout of the Baltimore Orioles was pretty impressive. In fact, this start marked the first shutout with at least 11 strikeouts by a Rangers pitcher since that aforementioned 16-strikeout no-hitter.
The 11 strikeouts tied a career high and were the most by a Rangers pitcher this season.
How he did it
Holland said it simply after the game: “I executed all my pitches.”
The ball came out of Holland’s hand smoothly and easily. He threw two-thirds of his fastballs for strikes and also threw 11 of 14 changeups for strikes, five of seven curveballs for strikes and 14 of 21 sliders.
Orioles hitters went 0-for-5 in at-bats that ended with the changeup and the pitch accomplished what Holland’s goal was with it—four of the outs came on balls that our video review indicated were soft contact.
Holland’s slider was a wipeout pitch, one that had its highest spin rate of the season. He ended seven at-bats with it and all seven of them finished with a strikeout.
Throughout most of the Rangers history, the pitchers capable of throwing a game like this were righthanded- Nolan Ryan, Yu Darvish, Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven and a few others.
You could make a statistical case that this was the best regular-season start thrown by a Rangers lefty in a while (Cliff Lee’s starts against the Rays and Yankees in the 2010 postseason are in a separate category).
Holland’s start netted a Bill James Game Score of 92. Game Score rates starts on a scale usually from 0 to 100, with elite starts scoring 90 or greater. Only one other Rangers lefty has scored a 92 in a nine-inning game.
That was Kenny Rogers in his perfect game against the Angels in 1994 (a 95).
Did you know?
There have been 11 instances of a pitcher throwing a shutout with at least 11 strikeouts this season. That’s the most in a season since there were 11 in 2002. The last season with more was 1998 with 15.