Derek Holland

Holland turns luck around for slumping Giants: 'We needed that in the worst way'

Holland turns luck around for slumping Giants: 'We needed that in the worst way'

PITTSBURGH — On the first day in Philadelphia, Derek Holland walked up to a beat writer -- this one -- who had missed the Atlanta sweep and jokingly reintroduced himself. That turned into a running gag through a week in Pennsylvania that ended up being a nightmare for the Giants. 

After three straight losses, evening the record on the road trip, Holland asked if I planned to follow the team to Pittsburgh. Told yes, he laughed and suggested I take my bad luck elsewhere. Anywhere else. After the first loss in Pittsburgh on Friday, he called me over, smiling as he asked why I was still around the team. 

“You’ve got to change something, man, change it up, change up the luck,,” he joked. “Wear a different shirt or something. Do something.”

There is luck involved in this game, as the Giants found out early on Sunday. They hit six balls at least 100 mph in the first four innings and didn’t see any of them fall for hits. But for the most part, a team will make its own luck. 

It was pretty simple Sunday. It didn’t matter who was sitting in the press box or what shirt he was wearing or what kind of magic beans the Giants might have hidden in their dugout. All they needed was a strong start, and Holland finally provided one. He took a shutout into the seventh and the Giants won 5-0, snapping a six-game losing streak to the Phillies and Pirates. 

“We needed that in the worst way,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I said it would take a good pitching effort to get over this. Give him credit — he took over.”

Bochy wasn’t the only one giving that message. As Holland warmed up, he was approached by pitching coach Curt Young.

“We need you today,” Young told him. “We’ve got to step up.”

Against the Pirates, that meant pitching through plenty of traffic. Holland walked five and gave up four hits, but he made pitches when he had to. He repeatedly busted the Pirates inside with fastballs and catcher Nick Hundley said Holland’s command was the best it has been all season. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, the Rangers’ hitting coach when Holland was a youngster in 2010, said his team simply had to tip its themed caps. 

“He beat us with the kitchen sink,” Hurdle said. “The ball was around the zone. We pushed to get out there, and we couldn’t come away with really even hard contact in those situations.”

The Giants had plenty of hard contact early, and for a while, Bochy thought this would be one of his buzzard’s luck games. That changed when Gorkys Hernandez found the seats in the sixth. An extended rally was capped by Hundley’s three-run bomb into the same seats. Richard Rodriguez hung a first-pitch curveball and Hundley skied it. 

“Thankfully he made a mistake with the breaking ball,” he said. “You get something like that, you’ve got to do damage on it.”

The homer, Hundley’s fourth of the year, capped an all-around day for the catcher. Holland credited his guidance, and that was true in more ways than just pitch-calling. Holland lost track of the outs in the second inning and started walking off the mound after the second one. Hundley held his hands up and yelled back at the striding pitcher. 

“Hey,” he said. “We’ve gotta get the third one.”

Holland got plenty more, pitching so effectively that Bochy sent him back out for the seventh to get past 100 pitches. When he came out for the ball, Holland tried to talk his way into more. That was enough on this day, though. The Giants needed a big performance and the left-hander gave it to them. He clinched a happy flight home, which allowed for one last joke on the way out of Pennsylvania. 

“You’re off the hook,” he whispered as reporters walked away from his locker.

Behind Derek Holland and two home runs, Giants snap six-game losing streak

Behind Derek Holland and two home runs, Giants snap six-game losing streak

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH — It wasn’t a surprise that a former Pirates outfielder came up big in his return to PNC Park. It was kind of a surprise that it wasn’t Andrew McCutchen, though. 

Gorkys Hernandez smoked a leadoff shot in the sixth to break a scoreless tie and the Giants poured it on from there, scoring five runs in the inning and winning 5-0. Derek Holland made sure the lineup had plenty of time to get into gear, throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings and getting his second win in orange and black. 

The win snapped a six-game losing streak and gave the Giants a 4-6 road trip. It wasn't what they envisioned, but given how poorly they played for the last week, they'll probably take it. Here's what else you need to know ... 

— Holland had his best day as a Giant. He became the first starter since last Saturday to pitch at least six innings, and despite the fact that he was at 99 pitches, he came back out for the seventh. After getting the first out, he was replaced by Reyes Moronta. Holland gave up four hits and walked five, but did an excellent job of pitching through traffic. He struck out seven. 

— Through four innings, the Giants had hit six balls at least 100 mph. None of those balls resulted in base hits. Hernandez found a better way, driving one into the first row of seats in left while leading off the sixth. He now has more homers against the Pirates than he did in 33 games for them. 

— With two on and two outs in the sixth, the Pirates called on Richard Rodriguez. He threw Nick Hundley a first-pitch curveball and it was skied right down the left field line for a game-breaking three-run shot. The homer was Hundley’s fourth of the season. That’s twice as many as the team’s starting catcher has. 

— Adam Frazier of the Pirates uses “Pony” as his walk-up song. Feels like that should be acknowledged far and wide, so here it is. 

Hundley just misses cycle on four-hit day, Giants take home series from Padres

Hundley just misses cycle on four-hit day, Giants take home series from Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — After his last start, Derek Holland shook his head, looked up at the ceiling, and said he wanted to join in the fun. On Wednesday he finally did. 

Holland picked up his first win as a Giant as the lineup battered opposing left-hander Clayton Richard and won 9-4. The Giants have taken four consecutive series and went 7-3 on the homestand. Now the road gets tougher. They’ll head to Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and all three of those rebuilding teams have played good ball this season. 

For now, here’s a look back at what mattered Wednesday … 

— Nick Hundley is making a bid for more playing time. He matched a career-high with four hits, including an opposite-field homer that clanked around the arcade section. Hundley was 8-for-15 on the homestand with seven RBI. Don’t be surprised if there’s a day or two on the upcoming road trip where Brandon Belt plays left and Buster Posey slides over to first. 

— Will Smith made his first big league appearance since Game 4 of the NLDS, pitching a scoreless seventh. Smith, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery, walked one and then struck out two, including red-hot Padre Eric Hosmer. His fastball topped out at 94 mph. That was an excellent sign for Smith and the future of this bullpen. 

— Holland had some wobbles, but avoided the big innings that have undone him for most of the season. He five-and-dived it, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out four. 

— Brandon Crawford needed a day like this. The shortstop had just three RBI when he stepped in with the bases loaded in the third and hit a two-run single to right. Crawford also had a single in his next at-bat and threw Hosmer out trying to stretch a double into a triple.