CLEVELAND — Chris Sale is gone, Carlos Rodon is hurt and the White Sox’ starting rotation is . . . just fine?
Indeed. Better than fine, in fact, as left-hander Derek Holland was in the Sox’ 2-1 victory Wednesday against the Indians at Progressive Field.
Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason to cover innings left by the traded Sale, Holland pitched six innings of two-run ball in his Sox debut Friday against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field and topped that with six innings of scoreless, one-hit work against the defending American League champions. He pitched around four walks, striking out four.
Since Jose Quintana served up three homers and lost to the Tigers on Opening Day, Holland, James Shields, Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez have made good on six consecutive winnable starts, posting a 2.06 ERA.
“That’s good,’’ Holland said. “We feed off each other.’’
The Sox’ bullpen has been pretty good, too, ranking second in the AL in ERA going into the game. Anthony Swarzak pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts in his Sox debut, Nate Jones kept a potential big inning at one run in the eighth and David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth.
The win, following a 2-1 loss in 10 innings in the Indians’ home opener Tuesday, improved the Sox’ record to 3-4. Holland, an Ohio native, lowered his career ERA in the Indians’ park to 1.02, the lowest of any visiting pitcher with at least 30 innings. He’s 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
“He continues to try to pound the zone, and he’s been able to keep them off-balance,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “He is spotting his fastball very well, and his secondary pitches have been very good.’’
This start had special meaning for Holland because his grandmother Pat Henderson, who passed away during spring training, saw him pitch for the last time here.
Holland said he will write “Granny” in the dirt on the back side of the mound in all of his starts this season.
“I love pitching here; this is where I’m from,’’ he said. “This game meant a lot more to me. This is where she got to see me pitch for the last time.’’
Holland had all sorts of things, emotional and otherwise, racing through his mind. When Francisco Lindor stepped up to lead off the Indians’ sixth, the scoreboard showed Holland finishing his warmup tosses and read, “Derek Holland, currently pitching a no-hitter.” If you believe in jinxes, there goes your proof: Lindor lined his 83rd pitch to the left-center-field gap for a double.
“I saw it,’’ Holland said. “You got to do what you got to do to break it up. I understand. I had fans yelling at me from the fourth on, telling me, ‘Hey, you got a no-hitter.’ I was like, ‘Thank you, Captain Obvious. I kind of know that.’ ’’
Indians right-hander Danny Salazar was about as good, if not better than Holland, striking out 11 and allowing less hard contact than Holland in six innings.
The Sox got to Salazar in the second. Cody Asche walked and advanced to third on Avisail Garcia’s double, and both scored on Matt Davidson’s single to left.
Davidson, a last-minute replacement for the ill Todd Frazier at third base, tied Garcia for the team RBI lead with five. Garcia has hit safely in all seven games.
Those two runs were just enough, thanks mainly to “The Dutch Oven.”
“He was amazing tonight,’’ said Robertson, who has six strikeouts in three scoreless innings. “He looked very calm and relaxed. Threw a lot of pitches that were close [ball-strike] calls that could have gone either way. He filled up the zone and did what a starter is supposed to do.’’
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