ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland was 25 years and one day old when he started Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
The fact that he's on a downhill course to 30 doesn't suddenly qualify him as a seasoned veteran and make him immune to the things that would trip up a young pitcher.
Holland still qualifies for the student discount. He's still learning, even though his 2011 regular season with the Texas Rangers would suggest that he absorbed more than expected while going 16-5.
But he hasn't made it through the entire big-league textbook, and his inexperience showed up Monday at Rangers Ballpark. The big-game atmosphere ignited a big fire in Holland, and he couldn't put it out.
He was gone after 2 2/3 innings, another lousy outing turned into another lesson in his breakthrough season.
The Rangers are hoping that Holland is a quick learner. The left-hander gets a chance at redemption tonight in Game 6, and claims that he has studied where he went wrong and has adjustments ready for the Detroit Tigers.
It all starts with getting his emotions under control.
"Just being able to go out there the first time and the way things went my first time out, I'm going to be a lot more calm than I was before," Holland said. "Just to get the jitters out was the big thing."
The video never lies, and tape from Game 2 shows that an amped-up Holland was rushing.
A quicker-than-normal tempo threw his mechanics for a loop, and that threw off his command.
He walked four batters and hit another. He threw a first-pitch ball to eight of the first 13 Tigers hitters. He failed to record a strikeout.
When he did get ahead, he couldn't finish the task.
Three of the four hits he allowed came with two strikes, including a three-run homer by Ryan Raburn that moved the Tigers into a 3-0 lead they eventually squandered.
If he can't control his nerves tonight, he could find himself out of the game quickly.
"That's the problem right there -- him being able to corral the energy and anxiety that goes along with competition," manager Ron Washington said.
"That's something that Holland has to control within himself. We can talk to him. We can tell him what he has to do. But once he crosses those lines, it's all on him."
Holland worked between starts on ironing out his mechanics so that he is able to finish his pitches and get them down in the strike zone.
Locating his two-seam fastball usually is a jumping-off point for success.
"When he's on, it's when he's down in the zone and attacking with the fastball on both sides of the plate," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "When you're going right at hitters, he's fine. He needs to throw that fastball down in the zone."
Calm nerves and a fastball down. Piece of cake, right?
Things were easy at times during the regular season for Holland, especially after the All-Star break.
He went 9-1 with a 3.06 ERA and tossed three of his four shutouts.
He worked five shaky innings against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, but did well enough to earn the victory.
At the least, he just needs to give the Rangers a chance tonight.
Holland hopes that's his legacy this season, despite a series of ups and downs that included a Game 2 meltdown.
"The big thing is I feel like I did a good job of keeping my team in the game and doing things to help the team win," he said. "I've just got to go out there and pitch. I felt calmer than I was for the DS, but you can see from the outside that I was whipping through things really quick.
"I now realize, I now feel like I know what I've got to do."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760