There were plenty of positive stories to report from the Texas Rangers’ 7-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
Take your pick: Derek Holland’s remarkable return to the rotation from a shoulder strain? Or the home run barrage in the seventh when Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus went back-to-back-to-back to ice the game?
Or what about a lead-preserving play by center fielder Delino DeShields, who threw out the potential tying run at home to end the seventh inning and preserve a 3-2 lead?
The Rangers finished 5-1 on the homestand and have won 14 of their past 20 games to remain in contention in the American League West and wild-card standings. They start a four-game series in Detroit at 6:08 p.m. Thursday.
“I feel like I’m back, I’m ready to go,” said Holland, who held the Mariners to two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. It was his first start since the April 10 home opener when he left after an inning with a subscapular strain in his left shoulder. He left Wednesday’s game after 93 pitches and an infield single in the seventh.
Keone Kela replaced Holland with one out and quickly had out out No. 2 with a strikeout. That set up DeShields’ impressive throw home on Ketel Marte’s single. DeShields fired a strike to catcher Bobby Wilson to throw out Jesus Montero.
It was the second dazzling defensive play by DeShields in the game. He made a long running snow-cone catch on the warning track for the first out in the fourth.
“The defense was doing a lot of work behind me,” Holland said. “That catch he made was awesome. Man, he’s fast. He’s an awesome outfielder.”
Shin-Soo Choo started the bottom of the seventh inning with a hit-by-pitch. He nearly was doubled up at first on an Adrian Beltre flyout, but right fielder Nelson Cruz’s throw sailed over Montero at first, allowing Choo to return safely from second. That set up consecutive homers by Moreland, Napoli and Andrus.
“It was amazing,” said Andrus, who tied his season-high with his sixth homer. “I’ve watched a lot of back-to-back-to-backs and never was a part of one, so it was a really great feeling just to be able to do it. It was a great inning for us to put some runs on the board and let the bullpen keep doing what they’ve been doing.”
Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings to close it out.
The Rangers spotted Holland three first-inning runs. Singles by Choo and Moreland, sandwiched around a walk to Beltre scored one run and Napoli’s hit-by-pitch set up Andrus’ two-run single.
Holland gave up Mark Trumbo’s solo homer in the fifth, and then was in a base-loaded mess after three singles to start the sixth. After a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux, Holland induced a 6-4-3 double play, which scored a run to make it 3-2.
“That was huge,” said Holland, who struck out six and walked none. “Sometimes you have to give up a run to get out of something like that.”
Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo, Holland’s return, the recent return of Thursday’s starter Martin Perez and the addition of Cole Hamels give the Rangers a formidable rotation.
“He’s been on a mission since the last time we saw him,” manager Jeff Banister said. “You see the complete conviction in all his pitches. He’s a veteran guy who has been out there and done it. It’s not surprising to us, but his ability to execute the way he did today, it’s nice to see.”
Holland’s successful return is just one of the storylines that has the Rangers stoked for a postseason run.
“Everything is going our way,” Andrus said. “We got Martin, we got Holland, we got Cole, we got Yovani and Colby. We’re in great shape as a team, so hopefully we can stay healthy.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760
In his first major league outing since starting the home opener in April, Derek Holland pitched well. He allowed just two hits and no runs until Mark Trumbo’s homer in the fifth. After that he allowed five hits in the next 10 at-bats. Some of his key numbers: