ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nothing is ailing Derek Holland physically as he approaches 200 innings pitched this season.But something is wrong with the left-hander, who has failed to work five innings in two of his past three starts and has failed to allow fewer than four runs in all three.Holland hasn’t had the command of his fastball, something that he has tinkered with during his past few bullpen sessions. He believes that he has ironed out the problems and is as prepared as he can be for his start tonight against Tampa Bay.“It’s just been executive,” said Holland, who has logged 193 1/3 innings. “Everybody goes through those stretches. I feel confident that I’ve gotten the work done that I’ve needed. I’m ready to go.”Holland allowed six runs Friday in only three innings against Oakland in losing his third straight start. He hasn’t won since Aug. 4, and his record has slipped to 9-9. His ERA climbed to 3.49 on Tuesday without him throwing a pitch, as a scoring change Sept. 7 added two earned runs to his ledger.Though the rotation entered Tuesday 1-12 with a 5.99 ERA this month, Holland said there is still time for the starters to collect themselves and get the Rangers to the postseason.“We can’t do anything about that stuff in the past,” he said. “It’s not over. We can still fix it.”Well-armedCenter fielder Leonys Martin recorded his 14th outfield assist Monday night when he threw out Yunel Escobar trying to score in the third inning of an eventual 6-2 loss.He entered Tuesday third in the majors in the category, trailing only Arizona’s Gerardo Parra (16) and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon (15), but the 11 assists from center field and the sixth assist on a play at home lead the majors. For Martin, an out at home is as thrilling as getting a big hit.“Throwing a guy out at home to me feels like when I get an RBI,” he said. “I’m always ready to throw to the plate.”Games for CruzGames in the Instructional League begin Wednesday in Surprise, Ariz., where Nelson Cruz has been working out in the hope that he will be called upon if the Rangers qualify for the postseason.Cruz would be eligible for the first game of the playoffs, and general manager Jon Daniels said that the plan is to get Cruz at-bats in the instructional games, though not necessarily beginning Wednesday. “I’m not sure he’ll be in every game,” Daniels said. “But he will get at-bats so that he will be an option at that point.”Cruz was leading the team in home runs (27) and RBIs (76) on Aug. 5, when he was suspended 50 games for taking performance-enhancing drugs provided by the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Miami.Briefly• Lance Berkman was the choice at designated hitter for a second straight game, his first back-to-back starts since Sept. 2-3 and just his fourth start since July 6. “He’s an experienced guy, so I’m going to give him another shot and see where it goes,” manager Ron Washington said.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson