A.J. Pierzynski called it the best game he’s seen Derek Holland pitch. Holland wasn’t going to disagree with that statement.
Holland threw eight scoreless innings, scattering six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, to lead the Texas Rangers’ to a 7-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark.
The Red Sox entered the game as the best team in the majors, as they are the only team at the 20-win mark.
“That was pretty impressive tonight,” first baseman Mitch Moreland said of Holland's outing. “He did whatever he wanted to do with the ball. That was a lot of fun to watch and play behind because he was pretty dominant.”
Said Pierzynski: “He had all of his pitches going. His fastball was really good and he used his slider early in the game to get some strikeouts. And he had a changeup whenever he was behind in the count.”
The 112-pitch outing was the best to date for Holland, who improved to 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.74. He also continued his dominance against the Red Sox, as he is now 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA in six career starts against them.
Holland retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, and induced inning-ending double play grounders in the fourth and fifth.
In the fourth, Shane Victorino had a leadoff single, but Holland responded by striking out Dustin Pedroia and getting David Ortiz to bounce into a double play.
“That was huge,” Holland said. “I never gave in and continued to plug away. Those are two good guys there and I came away on top.”
In the fifth, Holland got Will Middlebrooks to roll into a double play after he issued a one-out walk to Jonny Gomes.
Holland ended his night by stranding four combined base runners the final three innings. He also benefited from the most run support he’s received this season. Going into the game, the Rangers had given Holland a total of nine runs over his first five starts.
“I always treat it as if it’s a 0-0 game,” Holland said. “That’s what I told myself. I want to keep the momentum on my side. Those guys were swinging it well for me tonight and I wanted to do everything I could to keep them on fire like they were.”
Asked if he felt it was his best performance of the season, Holland said: “I’d say it was probably one of my best ones for sure, but I’ve got to give credit to my defense and A.J. has been great back there for me."
-- Drew Davison