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Derek Holland made a racially-insensitive mistake on Thursday. On Sunday, he pitched a one-run ballgame and walked off the field to a standing ovation from the home crowd. Holland didn’t understate how much he valued that reception.
“With the stuff that happened off the field, that meant a lot to me,” Holland said. “For the fans to have my back in that and understand, hopefully, with my apology to them, they have my back and they understand that those were not the intentions. But to have that ovation, that felt really good and I appreciate them for doing that.”
The 3-1 win came against Holland’s former team, the Texas Rangers, who declined his option for the 2017 season and allowed him to become a free agent. Holland said he appreciated the success he had against his former team, but he especially enjoyed facing Adrian Beltre.
“I walked him, but when I got him out, we did get to exchange words and have fun with that,” Holland said. “But that’s what the game’s all about. He’s an awesome guy, Hall-of-Famer no doubt. And plays through a lot of injuries.”
Holland was asked if he’d ever touched Beltre’s head – something he doesn’t take very kindly to.
“Yeah, I got punched,” Holland said. “We can’t go too far with that, but don’t ever touch the man’s head.”
He also apologized once more for the incident on Thursday and said he wanted to keep the team focused on baseball, not outside distractions. Aside from walks, one thing on the field that Holland is frustrated with is his inability to pitch seven innings. He’s now had 11 games pitching at least six innings, but he’s yet to complete the seventh this season.
“The curse of the seventh inning,” Holland said. “That’s where we’re going to leave it at. I remember we’ve talked before it was the first inning. So now, we’ve got a new curse and that’s the seventh. We’re going to try and get through that.”
Despite that, manager Bruce Bochy said he’s been pleased with Holland’s effort all season and today.
“You saw the game today and what he’s done all year,” Bochy said. “He’s stronger, he’s in great shape and he pitched a beautiful game today.”
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