In the early inning of tonight’s Game Two of the ALDS, Rangers pitcher Derek Holland was struggling. Things started off tough in the first inning, as the Rays loaded the bases early with a double from B.J. Upton, a walk from Evan Longoria, and a single from Johnny Damon. Kelly Shoppach — the hero from last night’s game — fell behind 1-2, but fouled off a few pitches and worked Holland deep in into the count; he eventually walked and drove in the Rays’ first run of the night.
Holland would escape without any further damage in the first, but he’s been off and on since then. The Rays worked him hard in the second inning, and although they didn’t score any more runs off him, they pushed his pitch count over 50. He appeared to settle down in the third inning, putting the Rays down in order, but the fourth inning ended up causing him trouble.
After retiring the first two hitters, Casey Kotchman hit a weak groundball back to Holland. Instead of getting an easy third out, though, Holland threw the ball way too low to first, and the pitch got past the first baseman. Kotchman reached, and Matt Joyce followed up with a two-run home run to deep right field.
And yet, the Rangers came rallying back against James Shields in the bottom of the fourth inning. They loaded the bases with no outs — thanks to a hit by pitch, single, and single — and then scored a run on Shields’ second hit by pitch of the inning. Mike Napoli drove in two runs with a single, and then the Rangers tacked on two more runs on a wild pitch and a groundout.
This series just got interesting. Now the Rays need to see if they can score again before the Rangers’ dominant bullpen gets into the game.