Derek Holland prepared the media members standing around his locker after the Rangers beat the Angels 7-2 Saturday night.
He had just been asked about getting through April after enduring two seasons in which he threw all of one inning in the month because of injuries.
After exclaiming his relief with a one-word (not for print) affirmation to underscore the emotion he was feeling, Holland pondered the recent past.
“Thank God it’s over and we’re past April,” he said. “Sorry for saying that. I’m a little excited about [April being over]. I was miserable [the past two seasons]. It was a lonely time.”
Just then, a completely in the buff Sam Dyson appeared in the media scrum around Holland, holding a beer bottle as if it was a microphone in Holland’s face. The mood took a u-turn from serious to surreal in a matter of seconds. Which seems about right for Holland.
Here’s the Rangers reaction on a night that ended with the club finishing April atop the American League West with a 14-10 record:
1. For starters — Remember those days, not long ago, when you never knew what you were going to get out of the Rangers starter from game to game? Perhaps you’ve buried it in the dark places of your memory. Good idea. But it was only last April. And May. And even into June when the Rangers rotation was as about as steady as a sports writer around a hot dog. Holland’s six scoreless innings stretched the Rangers’ club record string of five-inning or more starts to begin a season to 24 games. The previous high was 18 in 2012. It’s also the Rangers MLB-leading 18th quality start, including seven straight.
2. Runs in bunches — The Rangers had a season-high eight hits in the third inning in which they batted around and scored six runs against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker. Every batter in the lineup had a hit in the inning except for Nomar Mazara, who started the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly to left. Mitch Moreland’s three-run homer to right capped the scoring and gave Texas a 7-0 lead. Rougned Odor had three doubles, tying the club record for most in a game. He’s the 31st Rangers player to do it. In the third, a replay review overturned the call on the field and credited Odor with a double after replays clearly showed chalk fly up on his liner down the right-field line.
3. Mazara magic — If it had stayed in his glove this whole Rangers reaction deal would have turned into a Nomar Mazara tribute. But in retrospect, Mazara’s defensive play on C.J. Cron’s would-be homer over the wall in right saved a run in the third inning. Mazara, who made a homer-robbing catch last weekend in Chicago, did it again (and even more clearly prevented a home run) when he went and initially caught Cron’s fly beyond the wall. But the force of hitting the wall against his arm allowed the ball to come popping out of his glove on contact. Cron was held to a triple and Holland was able to escape with a fly out. Mazara also made a nice diving catch in the first, too. It wasn’t only Mazara flashing the leather. Center fielder Delino DeShields made several diving catches on shallow flies and Moreland made an impressive stop on a hot shot down the first-base line for the first out in the third.