BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Left handed starting pitcher Derek Holland has been “Good Derek” or “Bad Derek” for much of the season. He could be terrible, but on the days he was good, he was very good evidenced by his league leading four complete game shutouts. He was much more consistent after the All-Star break, going 9-1 in his last 15 starts. In the playoffs though, the Rangers have seen more of “Bad Derek”.
Sunday night, Good Derek came to pitch. He could literally be described as “Fantastic Derek” or “Unbelievable Derek”. He started with a snappy three up three down first inning. Lance Berkman doubled in the second and later singled for the only two hits Holland allowed. There is no question the Rangers needed a good pitching start after blowing through every reliever in the bullpen Saturday except closer Neftali Feliz. Holland answered the call with a true quality start – 8.1 shutout innings before manager Ron Washington yanked him after a one out walk in the ninth. He left the mound to one of the heartiest rounds of applause in Ranger history from the crowd of 51,539. Holland finished with just the two hits to Berkman, two walks, seven strikeouts on 118 pitches, 77 (65%) of which were strikes.
Feliz came on to get the final two outs and preserve the shutout, the first from an American League team in the World Series since 2005. He walked the first batter he faced, but got a soft fly to center from Albert Pujols and struck out Matt Holliday to end the game. Holland was the winning pitcher, but it was not a save situation for Feliz.
To support Good Derek, the Rangers jumped on Cardinals’ starter Edwin Jackson for a run in the first after just three batters. After Ian Kinsler led off with a ground out, Elvis Andrus singled and scored on Josh Hamilton’s double. Jackson however toughened from there throwing four shutout innings at Texas to keep the score 1-0 going to the bottom of the sixth. He flirted with danger along the way though, as he ended up walking seven Ranger batters on the evening. Two of those walks were Nelson Cruz and David Murphy in the sixth, and Jackson’s luck finally ran out. They both scored on a Mike Napoli home run, as Texas extended the lead to 4-0, which proved to be the final score. It was Napoli’s third home run of the post season and second in this World Series.
Texas badly needed a win Sunday. You can count on the fingers on one hand, the Major League teams that have come back to win playoff series after being down three games to one. With Sunday’s Ranger win, the series is tied now at two games apiece, and will return to St. Louis for at least one game on Wednesday. Game one starters Chris Carpenter and C. J. Wilson square off again Monday night in Arlington. Whichever team wins Monday gets a large leg up toward winning the series.
COCKTAIL CONVERSATION: Former President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday’s game. Ranger owner Nolan Ryan was behind home plate to receive the throw, but he was unable to handle to President’s fastball…..Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night.