Derek Holland was excited to pitch against his old team, the franchise with which he spent the first eight seasons of his big league career.
Surely, though, things played out a little differently than he had hoped.
Holland was chased by the visiting Texas Rangers after 5.1 innings of work Saturday afternoon, tagged for five runs in what turned out a 10-4 loss for the White Sox on the South Side.
“It was intense,” Holland said. “I mean, obviously you know they want to hit the home runs off me and they want to crush me just like I want to strike them out. I thought everything was there. Just a few things got away. Nothing to kind of beat myself up over. I felt like I did a good job of attacking, just a little upset with too many pitches that cost me.”
Things started promising enough, Holland punching out Delino DeShields to start the game, getting longtime teammate Elvis Andrus to groundout and striking out Nomar Mazara for a 1-2-3 first inning.
That earned a little “chirping,” as Holland put it, from his former mates in the Rangers’ dugout.
“They were chirping me, they were chirping me,” Holland said. “I want to say it was (Adrian) Beltre who said, ‘Throw that again.’ And I did. I threw the same pitch, and when I struck him out I immediately made sure I made some contact with him. It was fun.”
That was about as good as it got for Holland, though. He loaded the bases with nobody out in the second but got out of it with only one run’s worth of damage on the scoreboard. After two more scoreless frames, the big blow came in the fifth, when the aforementioned Andrus blasted a two-run homer to cap a three-run fifth inning.
Bragging rights secured.
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“I know I’m going to hear about that one,” Holland said. “The only thing I can say is thank god that wind was behind it. I thought it was a routine fly ball, and it’s one of those things. A home run is a home run whether he crushes it or he doesn’t. When it shows up on the sheet you don’t know where it’s actually at.
“Give the man credit, he hit the ball. I made the pitch. It’s just the way it goes.”
Holland was credited with one more run when Rougned Odor scored on Mike Napoli’s two-run homer off Michael Ynoa. All in all, a less-than-ideal outing featuring five runs, five hits and a pair of walks in fewer than six innings.
It’s been an up-and-down summer thus far for Holland after a spectacular first two months in a White Sox uniform. In his first 10 starts in April and May, Holland posted a 2.37 ERA, with opposing hitters hitting just .227 against him. But in his last six starts in June and now one in July, he’s got a 9.00 ERA with batters hitting .364. He’s surrendered at least five earned runs in four of his last six outings.
Still, this one might have to be considered an outlier, regardless of what the result was, because of the emotional element of Holland facing the Rangers for the first time.
“I think they knew what was coming,” Holland said. “I’ve been with them for pretty much 10 years. I know they were ready for me to come inside. It was just one of those things. You've got to battle with those guys. They know you, you know them. Just didn’t come out on top. That’s the big thing. Tried everything I could.”