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Harrison, Holland lead Rangers' surge

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Harrison, Holland lead Rangers' surge · Roster Report
 

Perhaps the biggest reason the Rangers have matched the best nine-game start in club history (8-1) is the performance of the two young lefties in the rotation, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.

This may rank as something of surprise.

But perhaps it shouldn't.

Harrison and Holland, who pitched the Rangers to back-to-back wins at Baltimore over the weekend, were exposed to an environment last year that was fertile for developing left-handed starting pitchers.

The two lefties, who were in and out of the rotation for the last two seasons, watched lefty C.J. Wilson blossom from an oft-erratic reliever into one of the best lefties in the game thanks to determination and preparation. For the final half of the season, they saw how Cliff Lee, perhaps the best lefty in baseball did his job.

And last they were each given a lesson by the Rangers' postseason run. For Harrison, who was left off the roster entirely, it was a wakeup call over what was necessary to compete. For Holland, who was both extremely good and extremely bad in postseason relief results, it was first-hand exposure to what inconsistency looks and feels like on the big stage.

They both seem to have learned. After Harrison allowed one run in seven innings Saturday, including retiring the last 18 hitters he faced, Holland went six shutout innings Sunday in the 3-0 win over the Orioles.

Together, they are 4-0 with a composite with a 1.73 ERA for 26 innings.

Holland escaped three jams in the first five innings Sunday, but none more impressive than the one in the fifth. He had two on and two out when Vladimir Guerrero came to the plate. Guerrero had hits in each of his first two at-bats. Holland came inside with a 94 mph fastball and got Guerrero to pop up the first pitch.

"Experience is one thing you can't teach," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "They've both shown an ability to slow the game down. That's hard to do without experience."

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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2015 Team Leaders
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