CLEVELAND --- Prior to the start of the bottom of the sixth inning of Wednesday's game between the White Sox and Indians, with White Sox starter Derek Holland having completed his warmups and looking at the giant Progressive Field scoreboard in left-center, the Indians flashed a little reminder of the
CLEVELAND --- Prior to the start of the bottom of the sixth inning of Wednesday's game between the White Sox and Indians, with White Sox starter Derek Holland having completed his warmups and looking at the giant Progressive Field scoreboard in left-center, the Indians flashed a little reminder of the ongoing story.
"Derek Holland currently pitching a no-hitter," the message read.
"I saw it," a smiling Holland said. "You got to do what you got to do to break it up. I understand."
That electronic gamesmanship immediately worked, as Francisco Lindor doubled to left-center opening the frame. It was the only hit allowed by the White Sox starter over six innings and 101 pitches during Chicago's 2-1 victory.
But this performance became more than just another regular-season start for Holland. He dedicated the game to his maternal grandmother, Pat Henderson, who passed away during this past Spring Training. The last time she got to watch her grandson pitch was in Cleveland, and Holland wrote "Granny" behind the mound before he threw his first pitch.
It's something he will do with every start, for a woman who was "like a mom to me, too," according to Holland. The Newark, Ohio, native came home to Cleveland and almost made history.
"Every inning I had fans yelling at me, from the fourth on, telling me, 'Hey, you got a no-hitter,'" said Holland, whose dad and his dad's side of the family was in attendance. "I wanted to be like, 'Thanks, Captain Obvious. I kind of know that.' The guys started disappearing and they wouldn't talk to me anymore."
Holland was effectively wild, walking four and striking out four. He praised the White Sox defense for working well behind him, but it was the southpaw who made his second straight effective start with the South Siders. He lowered his ERA to 1.02 over five career starts at Progressive Field, the lowest ERA of any visiting pitcher with at least 30 innings pitched in the ballpark's history.
"We made some pitches when we needed to," said Holland, who pitched out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the second and stranded two in the sixth.
"He's had some walks, but he continues to try to pound the zone, and he's been able to keep them off-balance," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "His secondary pitches have been very good. He has been spotting his fastball very well."
In that second-inning jam, with runners on first and second, Holland struck out Brandon Guyer looking with a sinker and did the same with Yandy Diaz on a four-seam fastball. He retired Guyer with two on and two out in the sixth on a 3-1 popup to first baseman Jose Abreu.
"Early in the game, he established his fastball," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "And then after that, he just started throwing like back-foot breaking ball, changeup. It seemed like he put the fastball in our heads, and then he went to his offspeed and was really good."
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.