By Adam Crouch | @Adam_Crouch
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — In the context of the 2014 season, Texas’ 2-1 win over the Braves on Friday night meant very little. Actually, it meant nothing.
The Rangers are still in last place — a fact that isn’t likely to change over the final 15 games of the season. But the performances of Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland did provide a glimpse of what the future holds for 2015.
In just his third start this season since returning from the DL, Holland was once again stellar, limiting Atlanta to one run over 7 innings. In three starts, the left-hander has surrendered just two runs and recorded 17 strikeouts in 21.0+ innings pitched.
Never before in his career had Holland strung together three consecutive starts allowing 1 ER or fewer.
The scary thing: Holland thinks he can be even better.
“I feel like I can do better. I haven’t had my best fastball over the past two starts,” said Holland following Friday’s win. “But that’s how you figure out how to pitch. When you don’t have your best stuff, you have to figure out a way to try and get people out. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few starts.”
He may not have been at his “best”, but Holland became just the second pitcher in franchise history to post three consecutive starts of 7.0+ innings with zero walks. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins did it in 1979.
“I heard, but I don’t want to get caught up in that stuff,” said Holland.
25-year-old Phil Klein earned his first major league win, striking out two of three batters in the 8th inning to escape a jam.
Closer Neftali Feliz then sealed the deal with a perfect 9th inning for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
“Derek threw a very good game,” Feliz said. “I just came in, threw all of my pitches and kept the ball down. The more I throw…I’m getting better and better.”
Feliz has now converted six straight save chances and has 6.1 scoreless innings over his last seven appearances.
Is he looking like the Feliz of old — the one that piled up 40 saves as a rookie and appeared in his only All Star Game in 2010?
“Heck yeah,” said Holland. “Hopefully I never have to go through what he did, but it’s something that’s a process. It’s not going to happen over night.
“He’s going back to what I always say — showing these fans what we got for next year.”
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