Derek Holland hadn’t pitched more than five innings in a postseason start. He took the mound Sunday night in a must-win game against a team that exploded for 16 runs the previous night.And all he did was pitch the game of his life.
The 25-year-old, barely mustachioed lefty threw 8 1/3 shutout innings in a 4-0 game four win to tie the World Series at two games apiece. Holland’s two-hit, seven-strikeout performance will be one his Rangers’ teammates remember forever.
“That was a special performance,” Ian Kinsler said. “That was probably the best pitching performance this organisation has ever seen.”
That’s a statement even Nolan Ryan would have trouble arguing.
Holland is just the second pitcher in World Series history to throw eight-plus shutout innings against a team that scored 15 runs or more the previous night. The other?
Curt Schilling. And his career turned out all right.
“I was very focused. I knew this was a big game for us,” Holland said. “I had to step up and make sure I was prepared.”
Josh Hamilton’s first-inning RBI double provided Texas the only run it needed. But Mike Napoli’s three-run homer in the sixth gave Holland additional breathing room.
Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled Holland after he issued his second walk of the game only two outs away from the first complete-game World Series shutout since Josh Beckett closed out the Yankees in 2003.
Holland begged to finish the game. He left to a frenzied standing ovation, instead.
“When I came off the field my arm hair was sticking up – not like I have much,” Holland said.
And with a tip of the cap and a wave to his gracious fans, Holland altered the course of this exciting series once again and, potentially, his career.
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