ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland has had impressive stretches before, including back-to-back shutouts against Seattle and Oakland on July 7 and 14, but those were not as positive for Rangers manager Ron Washington as the four quality starts Holland's turned in in his last four outings.That is because he faced trouble in those starts and responded. In the fifth inning of Wednesday's 9-1 win over the Indians, Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall led off the inning with a home run. Holland seemed to struggle with concentration when he walked the next batter, Lou Marson, on five pitches. Earlier in the year, Holland had earned a reputation of being spooked easily, where the first sign of trouble would cause him to lose focus. On Wednesday, he responded by getting Trevor Crowe to fly out to center and then striking out Kosuke Fukudome and Jason Donald to end the threat. "[He's] just growing up. He's believing in himself. He's not being overwhelmed when he gets into tough situations like he did earlier in the year," Washington said. "He's starting to figure out that you can get into tough situations as long as there's minimum damage. If the minimum damage is accessed, then you did your job.
"Before, when he would get in trouble, it would just snowball. Now he might give up one, he might give up two. But he doesn't give up four or five, and that's the difference right there."Holland, for his part, believes that the key is simply making better pitches. "Everything is still the same," Holland said. "I haven't done anything different, I'm just making better pitches, that's really it. That's what it comes down to."
Gentry pleasing skipper with speed, defense
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington gushed about the play of center fielder Craig Gentry, who has impressed with his speed and defensive abilities since being called up on May 7.On June 3, Julio Borbon was activated from the disabled list after recovering from left hamstring inflammation. If he was going to be on the Major League team, someone had to be optioned to the Minors. Gentry, who played the same position as Borbon and was sporting a .205 batting average at the time, seemed like a prime candidate to be sent back to Triple-A Round Rock for the second time this season. But the Rangers optioned Borbon to Round Rock instead. From there, Gentry hasn't looked back, batting .304 (24-for-79) with 13 steals in 42 appearances. "I am very happy for Gentry. He brings assets that a lot of teams would like to have," Washington said. "He can run like the dickens, he makes contact, he can play the heck out of some outfield. He's an asset that I think every manager would like to have. He's a guy you can put up in there, and if you need a bag, he can go get you a bag. He's always ready. I'm very pleased. What he's doing right now can definitely build his confidence." Gentry and his center field mate, Endy Chavez, will more than likely be pushed out of the starting lineup when Nelson Cruz returns full time -- as Josh Hamilton would move from left field to center field, and David Murphy would move to left to make room for Cruz in right. "Gentry will play when he gets to play, when that happens," Washington said. "I'm not going to move other people out of the way to get Gentry in the lineup." While that may mean Gentry won't be starting much for the remainder of the season, there is a good chance he will be used as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner for Cruz in the late innings. Cruz has to protect his hamstring from re-aggravation in right field and on the basepaths by making sure to take more controlled and smaller steps. That's a role that Gentry's shown some aptitude in, as he has stolen two bases and scored two runs in eight appearances as a pinch-runner. He is also a perfect 18-for-18 on stolen-base attempts, which is the most without being caught in the Major Leagues. "Gentry, that boy just outruns the baseball, that's all there is to it," Washington said. "I'll encourage him when he gets on the bag, if everything dictates that he can go get a bag, go get a bag. I'm not concerned about him getting thrown out, because if he gets thrown out, you have to tip your hat to the catcher, because he had to make a perfect throw."
Streaking Beltre also taking care of hamstring
ARLINGTON -- When Adrian Beltre re-aggravated his strained left hamstring on Aug. 6, Rangers manager Ron Washington stressed that Beltre would have to pace himself and be sure not to sprint too often during the course of games, in order to avoid another flareup.Even though Beltre's been hitting well, Washington is more pleased with how he is managing his hamstring. "I love it. He doesn't have to do any more than what he's doing," Washington said. "I know the hamstring is better than he's showing, but that's OK, he can stay in that mode. Believe me, it's on his mind." Beltre has gone 18-for-47 with four home runs since returning to the lineup on Sept. 1, extending his hitting streak from before the strain all the way to 18 games, heading into Thursday, which is the longest streak of his career.
The Rangers enter Thursday's game 21 games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 1999 season. Michael Young enters Thursday's game four hits shy of 200 on the season, and two RBIs short of 100 for the year. The only time he's topped both plateaus was 2006. Ian Kinsler has eight home runs already in September, which is the most by a Ranger in the month since 2008, when Hank Blalock hit eight. The franchise record is 11, set by Alex Rodriguez in 2001.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.