Derek Holland came into action Sunday night having thrown 13⅔ innings over four appearances in these playoffs. In those four appearances, he allowed 18 hits, six walks, five homers, and ten runs. He was probably lucky to have allowed just those ten runs. The Rangers wound up winning all four of the games in which Holland pitched, but, basically, Holland had not been helping out.
So one might've wondered how much confidence the Rangers had handing the ball to Holland for a pivotal Game 4. Not how much confidence they said they had - how much confidence they really had. There's no such thing as a World Series game that a team doesn't mind losing, but the Rangers really didn't need to lose after losing Game 3 on Saturday.
Well, it doesn't matter how much confidence they had in Holland before the game, because Holland's been nothing short of spectacular. Holland allowed zero runs in the first, and he's allowed zero runs in all innings after that. Mike Napoli gave him three additional runs of insurance in the bottom of the sixth, and Holland came out with a 1-2-3 seventh that featured a strikeout. He followed that with a 1-2-3 eighth that featured a pair of strikeouts.
His line now? Eight innings and zero runs, with 107 pitches. He has a walk and seven strikeouts. The Cardinals have all of two hits, which is fewer than Holland allowed in any of his four regular season complete-game shutouts.
There was a lot of concern after Game 3 that the Rangers' bullpen might've gotten worn down at a bad time. Holland has bought those guys some critical rest.
4-0 Rangers, bottom eight.