ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - Temperamental pitcher Derek Holland kept his emotions in check and the result put the Texas Rangers back in the hunt for their first World Series title.
Holland shut down the Cardinals on two hits over eight and one-third innings to lead the Rangers to a 4-0 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday and even the World Series at 2-2.
The hard-throwing Holland has a tendency to get too high or too low when on the mound, but the southpaw worked like a machine to blank the Cards, who scored 16 runs on Saturday.
Holland, 25, said he is even-tempered now, realizing that getting too excited or too angry is not the way to go.
”I’ve changed my approach now,“ he said. ”It’s more like a boxing approach is what I’ve been telling everybody.
“I’ve got nine rounds and in between innings is when I need to sit in my corner and relax.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington earlier this postseason used another sports analogy to describe the young Holland, calling him a pony who was poised to become a thoroughbred.
“Well, he was a thoroughbred tonight,” said the Texas skipper. “As we move forward in his career, he’ll let us know that. But tonight he did what we needed ... and he showed the world what he’s capable of doing.”
Holland kept St. Louis off balance all night, as designated hitter Lance Berkman was the only batter to reach base safely with a single and a double.
The Texas manager said the key to Holland’s game is “controlling his emotions.”
Washington put his hands on Holland’s shoulders and gave him a pep talk before the pitcher took the field in the first inning.
”He’s a fighter,“ said Washington. ”He’s a battler. He goes out there and he gives you everything he has. Just sometimes his emotions overtake everything.
“Tonight he never got out of control, and (catcher) Mike Napoli deserves a lot of credit for that, for keeping him in control.”
The game was huge for the Rangers, who did not want to go down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Berkman said Holland’s off-speed pitches were particularly effective.
“He seemed like he was throwing the curve ball short when he wanted to throw it short, and he was throwing it for a strike when he wanted to throw it for a strike,” Berkman said.
“He was on. The story of the game is, Derek Holland was better than the St. Louis Cardinals tonight. He just was. He was great.”
Editing by Larry Fine