x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

MLB: Derek Holland returns to form but Texas Rangers lose to Minnesota Twins

Pitcher rebounds from beating he got at the hands of Anaheim.

Derek Holland pitched impressively against the Minnesota Twins. Hannah Foslien / Getty Images / AFP
Derek Holland pitched impressively against the Minnesota Twins. Hannah Foslien / Getty Images / AFP

Derek Holland got back on track. Pedro Hernandez, though, stalled the Texas Rangers' bats.

Holland pitched seven solid innings after a poor previous outing but the Minnesota Twins' Hernandez kept the Texas-based MLB franchise scoreless for five innings in earning his first major league win, 7-2 on Saturday.

"I know there's going to be times when they're going to be scoring 20 runs or something like that," said Holland. "I got to make sure I keep the damage down. All that matters to me is we win."

Holland was outstanding in his first three starts, lasting at least seven innings and allowing no more than two runs in each. But on Monday in Anaheim, he allowed six earned runs on six hits while walking four in 5 2-3 innings. He felt as if he pitched well in that contest, but Los Angeles' hitters forced him into deep counts and took advantage of the free passes.

This time, Holland (1-2) scattered five hits, and allowed four runs - three earned. He had four 1-2-3 innings, but he also threw two wild pitches.

"I thought I was in control. The main thing is just one pitch to [Josh] Willingham. They got some runs, but that's the way it is. I kept the damage down for the most part, continued to go out there and unfortunately I didn't come out on top," Holland said.

Willingham hit a two-run homer to help hand Texas their second loss in nine games.

Hernandez allowed five hits walked one and struck out three.

"He did exactly what we asked out of him, a very nice performance by him," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

Aaron Hicks got his first major league extra-base hit and made two big defensive plays. Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton each work a scoreless inning of relief as Minnesota handed Texas its first loss in four games.

"Everybody's got to be a part of these things," said manager Ron Gardenhire.

Glen Perkins gave up a two-run double to Mitch Moreland that Hicks lost in the sun.

With so many weather postponements reducing the need for a fifth starter, Hernandez (1-0) was making just his second start - and fourth appearance - for the Twins. His first start was April 7.

After getting into a third-inning jam, Hernandez retired eight of the final nine hitters he faced.

"Hernandez was fantastic," Gardenhire said. "We got exactly what we wanted out of him; a nice performance by him, and then we kind of ad-libbed it there until the end."

A ground-rule double by Ian Kinsler gave the Rangers runners on second and third with one out in the third inning, but Craig Gentry lined out to the shortstop and Adrian Beltre flew out to left field to end the threat.

"He threw a lot of off-speed stuff. He threw a lot of pitches that were hittable. We got hits, but we didn't swing the bat the way we're capable of," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "Got to give him credit, he kept us off-balance. He went five innings and shut us out."

Minnesota scored the first run in the bottom half of the third when Hicks - who reached on an error by Moreland - scored on Brian Dozier's sacrifice fly.

Willingham connected in the sixth to make it 3-0.

"I knew there was a base open and in the back of my mind I might get an off-speed pitch. He threw it where he didn't want to," Willingham said.

Hicks' first career extra-base hit, a two-run double, keyed a three-run eighth inning, but it was his diving catch in left-center to rob A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth that appeared to make him happier.

"There was a split-second where I didn't think I had it, but it hung up there a little bit longer for me," he said. "I just made the play."

Hicks, the Twins center fielder, also threw out Nelson Cruz trying to extend a single into a double in the second inning.

Joe Mauer, who started at first base for the first time this season in place of Justin Morneau, went hitless for the third straight game and is 2 for 21 in his past six games.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE