Holaday forced into successful stint on mound

Rangers' catcher throws a perfect 1 1/3 innings in loss to Twins

Holaday forced into successful stint on mound

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez, hurt by sloppy defense, could not get out of first inning, throwing 38 pitches and setting off a chain of events that led to backup catcher Bryan Holaday taking the mound in the seventh inning of a 17-5 loss to the Twins on Saturday.

Holaday acquitted himself well, retiring all four batters faced on just 18 pitches, 12 strikes. He also pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning last year at Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers' organization.

"It was fun," Holaday said. "Obviously nobody wants that, but you play 162 games, it's going to happen. I'm glad I could go out and save some arms."

Holaday is the 10th position player to pitch for the Rangers in club history. This is also only second time a position player has been asked to pitch more than one inning. The other was Jeff Kunkel, who pitched 1 2/3 innings in a 19-3 loss to the Twins on May 20, 1989.

Holaday got by with what he called a "hybrid knuckleball" that came in anywhere between 60-80 miles per hour.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister had to go with Holaday because he only got 2 1/3 innings out of long reliever Cesar Ramos and 1 2/3 innings out of Luke Jackson, who gave up a combined 13 earned runs. The Rangers needed Shawn Tolleson to get the final out of the fifth and get them through the sixth. Tony Barnette was limited to 13 pitches in getting two outs in the seventh.

Banister was not going to touch Sam Dyson, Matt Bush or Jake Diekman in a blowout. He knew as early as the third inning he might need Holaday.

"You never want to do it," Banister said. "I'm not a big fan of it. Obviously there's the integrity of the game, but sometimes you have to make decisions to protect the rest of your guys."

The toughest part was pulling Gonzalez in the first, because the Rangers missed turning two double plays that would have finished the inning sooner.

"You get to the 38-pitch mark, young kid, that type of inning, I'm not going to push him," Banister said.

Gonzalez allowed four runs, but only one was earned because of the defense's struggles behind him. The 24-year-old's next start is scheduled for Thursday at home against the Twins, but Banister admitted that's something the Rangers will have to discuss.

"Super frustrating," Gonzalez said. "I felt good going into the game. I had my confidence up. It's tough to swallow."

Gonzalez began his day by giving up a double to Eduardo Nunez and walking Joe Mauer, before getting his first out on a fly to center. Then the Rangers' run of bad defense began.

Brian Dozier hit a grounder back to Gonzalez, who threw to second trying to start a double play. But second baseman Rougned Odor dropped the ball and everybody was safe.

"I should have had it," Odor said. "It was sinking, but I should have had it. No excuses."

Max Kepler, with the bases loaded, hit a slow chopper to first baseman Mitch Moreland. He tried to get the force at home, but the throw was late and Nunez scored the first run.

Eduardo Escobar followed with a double-play grounder at Odor, but he had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. That threw the timing off on the force and shortstop Elvis Andrus dropped the throw while trying to catch it barehanded. Andrus recovered to get the force at second, but the inning-ending double play was missed and a run scored.

Gonzalez then walked Danny Santana and gave up a single to Juan Centeno to make it 4-0. That's when Banister pulled Gonzalez and started the Rangers on the road to Holaday.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.