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Holland had it all working

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 3, 2011

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Rangers manager Ron Washington had good reason to be pleased with Derek Holland’s pitching in last night’s 10-0 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“To do what he did, against that lineup, to hold those guys to three or four hits, not put any runs on the board, is something special,’’ said Washington.

Washington will probably be even more satisfied with Holland’s performance once he realizes the Red Sox actually had only two hits - a leadoff single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the first and a fourth-inning single by Adrian Gonzalez.

The Rangers had a six-run lead after two innings, and Holland seemed to be coasting toward his seventh win in eight decisions. But Holland said he is making a concerted effort to maintain intensity, no matter the situation.

“It’s something to be thankful for, I’m blessed these guys are giving me some run support,’’ Holland said. “But, at the same time, I’ve got to do my part, and that’s to make pitches and keep the momentum on our side. I’ve got to stay focused, just because they give me the runs - I’ve had my times where I did give up the runs, like that game against Anaheim [an 11-7 win last week], so I’ve got to make sure I stay focused when I go out there.’’

Holland kept his pitch selection simple. And the strategy worked.

“Mainly fastballs,’’ Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Good life on his fastball. He commanded it, elevated it. He kind of overwhelmed us with it.’’

In Holland’s only previous appearance at Fenway, he failed to last past the fifth inning of a June 2009 game. That was Holland’s third major league start. After his first two years with the Rangers, Holland had an 11-17 record and there were questions about the direction of his career. But this season, Holland has emerged as an effective starter, with a 13-5 record, on a team that will probably be a factor in the postseason.

Holland displayed his potential with three shutouts in July, and he was able to glide along, as the Rangers have scored at least three runs in all but one of his last 19 starts. But Holland also has been inconsistent, and there have been big losses - the latest a 10-0 decision against the White Sox last month.

But this might have been Holland’s best outing of the season. In the best of his four complete-game shutouts, Holland held Oakland and Toronto to four hits.

“I give the credit also to my catchers, they’ve both been keeping me focused,’’ Holland said. “The main thing is just stay focused and take care of business one pitch at a time. They’ve pounded it in to me before so it’s started to get into me that, just because they give me some runs, I’ve still got to go out there and make pitches. Our defense is making plays behind us, it’s not just the pitchers.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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