Huff and Holland sounds like the name of a law firm or maybe a snuff film set in Amsterdam. Instead, it's the Wednesday pitching matchup in Texas between the Rangers and Cleveland Indians.
The middle of this 3-game set will be featured in the first of an ESPN doubleheader starting at 7:00 p.m. (ET). A pair of lefties square off on the mound, David Huff for the Indians and the Rangers' Derek Holland.
Things are suddenly getting exciting in the AL West. Texas entered the series with a 3-game lead over the Angels in the division standings, and with nine of their final 12 games following this series on the road – including the last three of the season in Anaheim – the Rangers know they're just a short stumble away from being caught.
This series gets underway Tuesday evening when Justin Masterson and Matt Harrison are the initial mound duel. Texas was priced at -160 on the MLB odds board with the results still pending.
It will be just the second career start for Huff (2-5, 3.05) against the Rangers, and he sure hopes it goes like the first one. He tossed a complete game 4-hitter at home over Texas in April 2010, one mistake pitch to Michael Young that was negated by one mistake pitch from Harrison a few innings later.
Huff has started September with losses on the road at Kansas City and Chicago, allowing seven earned runs in the 12 1/3 combined innings. The Tribe has dropped his last four assignments away from Cleveland, Huff's only winning road start this campaign coming in his first outing of 2011 in Minnesota on July 18.
Holland (16-13, 4.12) was lit up by the Tribe in this ballpark on Aug. 5, punched out before the end of the second inning when Cleveland held a 6-2 advantage. Texas battled back for an 8-7 win in 12 innings to cash on a -150 money line.
The other time Holland pitched against the Tribe this year season resulted in a complete-game shutout June 4 in Cleveland. It was his first of four shutouts on the season, part of this young southpaw's 2011 repertoire that has been very, very good, and very, very bad at times.
Holland has 17 quality starts in 2011, above average for MLB hurlers about to make their 30th trip to the mound. Of the 12 starts that lacked quality, 11 have been real shellings. Holland's ERA in those 48 1/3 innings is over 10; his ERA in the 18 'non-shellings' is very stingy 1.85.
Texas was expected to see two players return from the disabled list in time for the start of this series. Outfielder Nelson Cruz (hamstring) and reliever Darren O'Day (shoulder) have both been missing since late-August.
The Rangers started Tuesday with a 6-1 lead in the season series vs. the Indians. They swept four at Cleveland in early-June and took two of three here at home in August. The 'over' prevailed in two of the three at Rangers Ballpark.
This game is being moved up an hour from regular start times at Rangers Ballpark, so there's a chance it's still 100ºF at first pitch, at least the upper 90s and an 8-12 mph breeze coming from the SW (RF corner to LF corner).