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Holland jests with Texas, but struggles persist

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Friendly gamesmanship between White Sox starter Derek Holland and his former teammates from Texas didn't take long to start up Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

In the first inning of an eventual 10-4 Rangers victory, Holland threw a four-seam fastball on a 3-1 count that leadoff man Delino DeShields fouled back. Holland threw the same pitch at 3-2 and got a called third strike, immediately smiling as he pointed to the Rangers' dugout.

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CHICAGO -- Friendly gamesmanship between White Sox starter Derek Holland and his former teammates from Texas didn't take long to start up Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

In the first inning of an eventual 10-4 Rangers victory, Holland threw a four-seam fastball on a 3-1 count that leadoff man Delino DeShields fouled back. Holland threw the same pitch at 3-2 and got a called third strike, immediately smiling as he pointed to the Rangers' dugout.

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Adrian Beltre, who Holland praised Friday as both a player and a leader, laughed and clapped in jest.

"They were chirping me," said an amused Holland, who pitched for the Rangers from 2009-16 before joining the White Sox via free agency. "I want to say it was Beltre who said, 'Throw that again.' And I did.

"I threw the same pitch, and when I struck him out I immediately made sure I made some contact with him. It was fun. Obviously I wish the results had been a little different, but it was good to see those guys and battle against them."

Holland finished Saturday with five earned runs allowed over 5 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking two in 106 pitches. He dropped to 5-8 overall following his first career start against the Rangers.

Video: TEX@CWS: Holland gets the game started with a K

While Holland earned brief bragging right with the opening strikeout, Elvis Andrus took them back with a two-run home run to left in the fifth. Andrus explained Friday he might smile and giggle when he first walked up to the plate against Holland, but the shortstop's towering drive to left was no laughing matter for Holland or the White Sox.

"It was good," said Andrus on the home run, which was his 11th. "But we go ahead with that one. The situation with the home run was bigger than facing him."

"I'm gonna hear about that one," Holland said. "The only thing I can say is, thank God that wind was behind it. I thought it was a routine fly ball and it's one of those things. A home run is a home run, whether he crushes it or he doesn't. Give the man credit. He hit the ball. I made the pitch. It's just the way it goes."

Video: TEX@CWS: Andrus mashes a two-run homer to left-center

Since the beginning of June, covering six starts, Holland has allowed 28 earned runs over 27 innings pitched. He also has yielded nine home runs.

But the veteran feels strong through 16 starts, even if Saturday's memorable trip to the mound didn't go exactly as planned.

"Obviously you know they want to hit the home runs off me and they want to crush me, just like I want to strike them out," said Holland, who called facing the Rangers "intense." "I thought everything was there. Just a few things got away.

"Nothing to kind of beat myself up over. I felt like I did a good job of attacking, just a little upset with too many pitches. Could have been maybe one or two innings where I gave up some runs and my job was to continue to battle and save the bullpen as much as I can. Unfortunately it just didn't happen."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Derek Holland