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Holland, Grimm visit Fan Cave before Bronx series

NEW YORK -- Justin Grimm and Derek Holland dressed up Tuesday morning in orange and powder-blue tuxedos, respectively, to make an upcoming MLB Fan Cave video in honor of the announced sequel to Holland's favorite movie, "Dumb and Dumber."

The Rangers duo walked with canes and filmed bits out on the streets of Manhattan -- amid curious stares -- and the funniest part was when they took turns repeatedly jumping up to high-five an orange do-not-walk traffic "hand" on a corner.

"I was just being myself," Holland said. "I know most of the stuff that Lloyd Christmas would do. ... It's just my personality. It's how I am. I try to treat every day like it's my last, and have fun and enjoy it every time. I always try to put smiles on people's faces and make them laugh. It's a fun thing to do."

"I rolled with the punches," said Grimm, invited by Holland to be his partner in comedy for the day. "I didn't know what to expect. I saw what he and Ryan Dempster did last year with the Harry Caray impersonation, and I didn't know if we'd be able to top that."

The two Texas starting pitchers were working in some road-trip hijinks while preparing for their big priorities that would await them here in the Big Apple. Following the marquee matchup of Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday night, Grimm (6-5, 5.57 ERA) and Holland (5-4, 3.43) will take the mound in consecutive games at Yankee Stadium.

For Grimm, a rookie matched up opposite 41-year-old left-hander Andy Pettitte, it will mark his first outing in the Bronx.

"I just need to watch Darvish pitch tonight, first," Grimm said. "Just go at 'em, basically. Be competitive, be myself. Stay within myself. It is my first time pitching at Yankee Stadium, I'm pretty excited about that, but for me it's just another start against a very good team."

In contrast, it will be just the latest test there for Holland, who made his mark at Yankee Stadium as the winning pitcher in the pivotal Game 4 of the 2010 American League Championship Series. He has started three times there since then, losing both decisions in 2011 before surviving a rocky outing for a 10-6 win last Aug. 16.

"For me, obviously, I just have to go out there and establish zones right away," Holland said. "Get after these guys. It's a great ballclub. They've actually had pretty good success against me in the past. It is a new year, I always tell myself that. The main thing is just get as many ground balls as possible. Everybody knows that the ball flies out of here to right field, so you want to make sure you keep the ball down. I'm going up against a great pitcher as well in Phil Hughes, I've got to try to match him pitch for pitch and go from there. It's going to be a great ballgame."

Holland said he remembers the 2010 playoff game at Yankee Stadium like it was yesterday: Nervous energy, bottom of the fourth, 2-2 tie, coming in to relieve Tommy Hunter with the bases loaded. Holland immediately got Brett Gardner to ground to short for a force at third, with Alex Rodriguez scoring a go-ahead run, and then got Francisco Cervelli on a called strike three. Holland held his ground over 3 2/3 innings, allowing no earned runs, and the Rangers would bust out offensively and end the day with a 3-1 series lead that proved insurmountable.

"I remember it really well," Holland said. "Bengie [Molina] did a great job calling the game for me. I came in, I mean my heart was racing, but Bengie kept me pretty calm, and let me go right after these guys. He knew what I had going into it. That's an unbelievable ballclub, especially in the playoffs. You don't know what the Yankees are capable of doing. They've got so many World Series for a reason. The main thing is to go out and compete. I thought I did a great job. It sticks out so well for me, because it's the Yankees for one, a team you always want to beat. Growing up as a kid, you want to play for them, but now I'm here so I want to beat them. It was an unbelievable experience, and I'll never forget that."

Grimm, the AL Rookie Pitcher of the Month in April, has epitomized this year's Rangers in many ways. Thanks in part to Grimm, Texas leads the Majors in most starts by rookie pitchers. It is a team that keeps fueling itself from within, filling needs as they arise, and after a stretch of furrowed brows and little run support just recently, they once again have the best winning percentage (.579, 44-32) in the league.

"A lot of us are still learning," Grimm said. "The way they do things throughout the organization, they feel like guys can come up and get the job done. I think we've got three rookies on the starting staff now. Nick Tepesch and Martin Perez, they're very talented pitchers. Tepesch has been throwing the ball really well, and Perez, we'll keep seeing him do big things. For me, I'm just going to keep battling, keep learning, and take it outing by outing."

"For me, Grimm is a terrible pitcher," Holland said, making his sidekick laugh inside. "No, just kidding. You can tell he's been working his butt off. He's very competitive out there. I think he's got one of the best curveballs in the game. He does, he goes right after you, from pitch one to the last pitch. Lot of fight in the guy, does a great job competing, it's awesome to watch."

It was not long ago that Grimm, a fifth-round Draft pick, was pitching out of the bullpen for the University of Georgia in the College World Series. Now he finds himself watching the action from Omaha ("It's always on in the clubhouse," he said), marveling at the physique of 6-foot-5, 272-pound Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea, who chose baseball over SEC football.

"I can't get over how big that guy is," Grimm said.

Ask him about his "Dumb and Dumber" sidekick, and this is what Grimm will tell you: "He's a power lefty who's going to come at you. He's got great stuff. You'd better be ready if you're standing in the box."

Holland may have to be ready himself -- for any Yankee fans who come over from New Jersey and saw his tweets on Monday night, after he was removed from a Counting Crows concert.

"You might not want to show my tweets," Holland joked to Rangers fan and Cave Dweller Mina Park as she showed off the Fan Cave's Mission Control area, which features the latest tweets per team. He laughed off the subject while signing an autograph at the ball wall, explaining his side of it and then moving on and eventually talking about the Rangers again.

This is a team that, like Holland, keeps coming at you. And it all starts at the top, where having Ian Kinsler back in the lineup is seen internally as an enormous difference-maker. He has hit in seven straight games, now nine games into his return from the disabled list.

"The whole thing about the pitching and stuff, I felt like we caught a slump at the wrong time," Holland said. "The offense and defense and pitching, all of them just kind of hit at the same time. It was trying to see who was going to catch fire first, and that way we could take the momentum from there. The offense did a great job of getting things back for us, and then also the pitching stepped up, and the defense, they've been phenomenal for us, making plays out the wazoo. [Adrian] Beltre just made some sweet plays in St. Louis, Elvis [Andrus] the same.

"It's an all-team game, and right now I'd say the way we're playing, we're using all nine guys the way we should."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.
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