Holland’s strong debut not enough for Sox

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White Sox pitcher Derek Holland pitches during his team debut Friday night against the Minnesota Twins.

Left-hander Derek Holland is high-energy no matter what day it is.

So when he made his White Sox debut against the Twins, his inner drive hit another gear. Holland knew he needed to channel his nervousness into nastiness on the mound.

“I’ve pitched in big games before,” Holland said. “To worry about that kind of stuff is nothing. You have to stay focused no matter what. The big thing is attack the zone and let the defense make the plays.”

Try to, at least.

A lack of timely hitting and too many mistakes on defense overshadowed Holland’s strong performance in a 3-1 loss. The Sox (1-2) committed three errors and scattered four hits after the first inning.

If not for Holland, the outcome would’ve been more lopsided. He limited the Twins to three runs (two earned) in six-plus innings. He allowed four hits, walked one and fanned five to earn a quality start.

“He helped minimize the damage,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He did a nice job. He kept us in the ballgame.”

Until Friday, Holland had pitched all 179 games of his career for the Rangers. He racked up 16 wins, including four shutouts, as a 24-year-old in 2011, which ended with a trip to the World Series. But injuries to his left knee and left shoulder caused Holland to miss significant portions of the last three seasons.

The Sox signed Holland to a one-year, $6 million contract in December. The deal was a good fit for a team looking for a short-term commitment and a pitcher seeking an opportunity to revive his career.

“I don’t sit and worry about stuff I’ve gone through,” Holland said. “I’m focused on the now. These guys have done a good job of keeping me where I need to be.”

The Sox gave Holland a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Jose Abreu in the first inning. But the advantage was short-lived as the Twins capitalized on an errant pickoff throw by Holland and a dropped fly ball by Avisail Garcia to even the score in the fourth.

“He ran a long ways and just dropped it,” Renteria said.

Minnesota pulled ahead 2-1 on a hard-hit double by Miguel Sano in the sixth.

Renteria removed Holland after he walked Eduardo Escobar to lead off the seventh. Holland received a warm ovation from an announced crowd of 14,004, and teammates greeted him with high-fives in the dugout. Moments later, the walk proved costly.

Reliever Nate Jones surrendered a double down the left-field line to Chris Gimenez, and the umpires allowed Escobar to score from first base after a fan clutching a beer reached over the railing and grabbed the fair ball with his free hand. Renteria asked for a video review, which confirmed the ruling and made it 3-1.

“We thought that we might have a chance,” Renteria said. “Obviously, they decided that he would have scored [without fan interference]. But it was worth us taking an opportunity to eliminate that run.”

Holland said he had command of all his pitches with the exception of the one that hit Escobar in the third. He blamed himself for miscommunicating with Tyler Saladino on a pickoff throw to second base that was not covered.

“It was a good first start, way to get things going,” Holland said. “I’m glad it’s over with, too. I did everything I could. The guys were out there battling and making plays. Next time, we just have to finish.”

Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.

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