Derek Holland and the Top 7 Texas Rangers' Postseason Pitching Performances
Last Saturday going into Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, the Texas Rangers were riding high. After losing Game 1 in frustrating fashion, 3-2, they were able to come back in Game 2 and beat the Cardinals at their own National League-style game, 2-1.
And then Game 3 happened.
Albert Pujols had gone 0-7 combined in the first two games. In Game 3 Pujols heated up to nuclear levels. He went 5-6 with 6 RBI, with a World Series record-tying three home runs.
Next thing you knew, the Rangers had lost by nine runs for the second time in the postseason this year, and the first time since Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Derek Holland needed to pitch the game of his life, and as will be discussed later on, he certainly would have a superlative start.
The Texas Rangers have only been to the postseason five times in the history of the franchise: 1996, 1998–99, 2010 and of course, this year.
Here's a look at the top postseason pitching performances in the history of the Texas Rangers.
No. 7: 1996 ALDS Game 1- John Burkett Beats the Yankees
On Aug. 8, 1996, the Texas Rangers shipped young up-and-coming right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Dempster and a player to be named later to the Florida Marlins for John Burkett.
Burkett was named the Game 1 starter in the Texas Rangers' first postseason game in the history of the franchise.
Burkett set the bar pretty high too, as he went the full nine innings against that year's eventual World Champion New York Yankees. He struck out seven, walking just one and scattering 10 hits.
Hard to believe it would be 15 long years until the Texas Rangers would win another postseason game.
Note: The player to be named later was right-hander Rick Helling, who ironically would be reacquired by the Rangers and was the staff ace on their 1998 and 1999 AL West Division Championship teams.
No. 6: 2010 ALDS Game 1- Cliff Lee Stifles the Tampa Bay Rays
In 2010, the Texas Rangers were one piece short of being a contending, playoff-bound team. They needed an ace to front their staff.
On July 9, 2010 the Texas Rangers sent a package of players and prospects—the biggest name being Justin Smoak—to Seattle to acquire Clifton Phifer Lee.
Although Lee was a little shaky at times during the close of the 2010 regular season, it was impossible to argue with his results once they made it to October.
15 years after John Burkett earned the Rangers' first postseason win, Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings, surrendering just one run with 10 strikeouts as he beat the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, 5-1 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
No. 5: 2010 ALDS Game 5- Cliff Lee Pitches Rangers to First ALCS
Eight days after Cliff Lee had earned just the second postseason win in Rangers' history, he was on the hill once again in Game 5.
After starting off 2-0 on the road during the 2010 ALDS, the Texas Rangers inexplicably lost the next two games—both at home—and come Game 5, they were just one loss away from elimination.
Cliff Lee was more than ready for the challenge.
Lee struck out 11 with no walks, surrendering just six hits over nine innings, as he beat David Price for the second time of the series.
Just like that, the Texas Rangers had won their first postseason series, eliminating the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth and final game.
Note: C.J. Wilson's shutout of the TB Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS was the only time the Rays failed to score at least one run. Wilson didn't make the cut here though due to the fact that Lee's Game 1 and Game 5 wins took precedence because of their historic nature.
No. 4: 2010 ALCS Game 2- Colby Lewis Evens the Series
John Burkett will forever be etched in Texas Rangers lore as the first pitcher to earn a postseason win. Cliff Lee was the first to win multiple games in a series as he won two of the necessary three games for advancement to the 2010 ALCS.
Colby Lewis became the first Rangers pitcher to earn a win in the American League Championship Series when he beat the NY Yankees in Game 2 on October 16, 2010.
Lewis managed the feat without his best stuff, as he allowed two earned runs, three walks and six hits over 5.2 innings pitched. He was good enough though as the Rangers were able to hold on for the series-evening win 7-2.
Note: Lewis' win was especially important as the Rangers had held the lead in Game 1 of the ALCS through the first seven innings, only to lose the lead and the game thanks to a five-run outburst by the Yankees in the top of the eighth inning. The 6-5 loss could have been back-breaking, as the Yankees had knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs in their previous three appearances in the postseason.
No. 3: 2010 ALCS Game 3- Cliff Lee Destroys the Yankees
As should be quite obvious by now, Cliff Lee was a key contributor in getting the Texas Rangers to the their first World Series in 2010.
Lee was never more dominant than in Game 3 of the ALCS, the first game in New York against the mighty Yankees.
Lee pitched eight amazing innings with 13 strikeouts, just one walk, while allowing only two base hits in his shutout of the Rangers' former nemesis.
Lee's win improved him to 3-0 during the 2011 postseason, and gave the Rangers the ALCS lead 2-1. The lead would be one they wouldn't relinquish, but this would be Lee's last postseason win to date, as he would lose twice in the 2010 World Series against the Giants and once to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS with the Phillies.
No. 2: Colby Lewis Remains Unbeaten in His World Series Appearances
The St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium is well known as a "pitcher's" park. The Rangers found this out first hand as they got their best postseason start in 2011 from C.J. Wilson in Game 1 of the World Series, only to lose the game by a final score of 3-2.
Thanks to Colby Lewis, the Texas Rangers returned the favor in Game 2, as they won another National League-style nailbiter 2-1.
They certainly couldn't have done it without Lewis' strong start, as he went six and two-thirds innings with four hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Unfortunately, Lewis was stuck with the no-decision as the Cardinals' took a 1-0 lead with pinch hitter Allen Craig's RBI single off of relief pitcher Alexi Ogando.
Note: Colby Lewis earned the Texas Rangers' only WS victory in Game 3 of the 2010 Fall Classic as he pitched 6.2 innings allowing two earned runs and striking out six. Lewis also won two games in 2010's ALCS against the NY Yankees, including the Game 6 clincher that sent the Texas Rangers to their first World Series.
No. 1: 2011 World Series Game 4- Derek Holland Shuts Down Pujols and Cardinals
Derek Holland became only the second Texas Rangers' starting pitcher to earn a victory in the World Series when he shut down the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0 in Game 4.
Just stating the fact that he was stellar and earned the win, doesn't do justice for what Holland accomplished on that crisp and cool late-October night in Arlington, Tex.
Derek Holland might have just saved the Texas Rangers from yet another World Series disappointment.
Considering the fact that Game 3 had the St. Louis Cardinals going absolutely postal at the plate—the Cards blasted the excellent Rangers' bullpen for 10 earned runs—scoring 16 runs on 15 hits.
Prior to the Game 3 beatdown in front of a packed Rangers Ballpark in Arlington crowd, the World Series had been tied 1-1 and both teams had scored eight runs combined during the first two contests.
Albert Pujols went 5-6 with three home runs and six RBI. After that astounding performance, it seemed the Cardinals were poised to take the almost insurmountable 3-1 lead.
Holland had been quite shaky in his two ALCS starts against the Detroit Tigers. He was 0-0 with a 8.59 ERA pitching only 7.1 innings combined, allowing four home runs, 11 hits, five walks and recording seven strikeouts.
How on earth could the baby-faced 25-year-old with four months of lip growth that looks more like a chocolate milk mustache than anything else, stop Albert Pujols and company?
Holland did it by working his 96 MPH fastball in and out of the zone, while keeping the Cardinals off balance and flailing helplessly against his slider and changeup.
Derek Holland went 8.1 innings, surrendering just two hits—Lance Berkman notched both of them—while striking out seven and allowing just two bases on balls.
Just like that, the man affectionately known as "The Dutch Oven," notched the biggest pitching performance in postseason history for the Texas Rangers.
The series is now tied 2-2 for the Rangers with one more at home against the Cardinals. Thanks to Derek Holland, the Rangers are now just two wins away from their first ever World Series Championship.