Well, after 4 games on the road vs Oakland, the Texas Rangers looked to get things started with Derek Holland getting the ball on the home opener vs Houston."I have not started any openers -- season, home, anything -- so this is new for me, but the way I'm looking at it, I've been in big situations, big games like the World Series and things like that," Holland said prior to the game on Wednesday vs Oakland. "So nothing's going to change my approach or any thoughts on that side of it. The main thing is I want to continue what I had last year and take that into the first game this year. And I have a lot of expectations for myself and I want to make sure I fulfill them." Nobody expected Holland to come out there and perform the way he did Friday.
The left-hander looked to be in control, although he gave a 1st pitch single to 2B Jose Altuve to lead it off. Later in the inning, he picked off Altuve from 2nd. Things looked to be in control, until he gave up a solo home run to SS Jed Lowrie, his 2nd of the season. He successfully made it out of the 1st with just 9 pitches thrown, 8 of them being strikes. The concern was from his velocity, not a single fastball reaching over 89 MPH. Holland left the mound with disgust as he screamed into his glove.
After a scoreless bottom half for Texas, the 40,000+ fans were hoping to see Holland back out, but instead it was the RHP Anthony Bass. Even as I watched, I was stunned to see Holland pulled. I scrolled throughout every reporter, including Texas Rangers beat writer, Evan Grant. It was a sad moment when I scrolled passed Rangers Executive Vice President, John Blake's twitter page:
Just when you thought this day could get worse, OF Jake Smolinski took over in RF for Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was later diagnosed with back spasms and is considered day-to-day. With Texas down 2-0 in the top of the 6th and already without 2 starting players, the announcement from PA announcer, Chuck Morgan, rang in. "Ladies and Gentleman, your attention please, this change for Texas now playing left field, number 7, Delino Deshields, Delino Deshields now in for Ryan Rua." Rua was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle in the top of the 7th.
Texas has had it's injury woes throughout last year, but they hoped they'd change that this year. Holland later was diagnosed with a shoulder sprain & could be out for at least 6 weeks. “I’m pretty beat up about this,” Holland commented briefly after the game. “I don’t want to miss anything at all. It really sucks. This is not what I wanted.”
Even a bigger let down was by the end of the game, Texas had lost 5-1 after a 9th inning 2-run blast by Astros' OF Colby Rasmus hit it off of Rangers' closer, Neftali Feliz. The one upside of the game was a miraculous play by Anthony Bass. With men on 1st & 2nd with 0 outs, OF Robbie Grossman looks to bunt. The bunt was popped up, shallow for Bass and the catcher Chirinos, but that didn't stop Bass from diving head-first for the ball, making the out and throwing the ball to 2nd for the 1-4 double play. Bass had 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER & 2 K. This was not a bad debut for Bass and it could give him some looks into possibly replacing Holland until his return.
The other options until his return is simply call up RHP Nick Tepesch. Tepesch had 17.1 IP throughout spring training with 6 K, 5 BB & an ERA of 10.38. They could call up RHP Anthony Ranaudo instead. Just recently, he kicked off the Round Rock Express' season with the opening day start. Anthony pitch 5 innings, giving up 4 hits, 6 strikeouts and no runs allowed. 51 pitches out of 76 thrown were strikes and hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the young right hander. The Rangers' rotation looks sad without the spunky, fun-loving Derek Holland. Until his return or Perez or Harrison, the Rangers will have to deal with what they have in their farm system.
By James Trietley