Following left knee surgery, Holland missed most of 2014 and went back on the DL after only one inning in the home opener April 10 when he strained his left shoulder, but the effects of 4 1/2 months of rehab have been obvious and the lefty veteran has arrived back in action at an opportune time for the Rangers.
Holland struck out 11 batters in the 6-0 Ranger win, getting sluggers Adam Jones and Chris Davis twice each on strikes and struck out every Oriole player in the lineup.
With 79 of 116 pitches going for strikes, Holland had batters confused. Only Jones, Davis and Dariel Alvarez had base hits off Holland, and Jones double was the only one that went for extra bases.
Texas has won four straight and seven of their last nine, closing to within three games of the Houston Astros, who lead the AL West and who dropped a 7-5 decision to the Twins on Sunday.
The rangers are also in line for the second wild card, leading Minnesota by 1 1/2 games. Texas trails the Yankees by four games in the quest for the #1 wild card spot.
The Rangers go on the road Monday, starting a six-game trip with three at San Diego, followed by three more at the Angels in Anaheim, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In the midst of a west coast road trip and in need of something to snap them out of a four-game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs got a shot in the arm from the arm of their ace hurler, Jake Arrieta, who tossed the season's sixth no-hitter Sunday in a 2-0 Cubs' victory over the Dodgers.
Having a remarkable season which has helped put the Cubs in position for a wild card in the NL, Arrieta was just a few plays from perfection. Stalin Castro's throwing error in the second inning and a sixth inning walk to Jimmy Rollins were the only flaws in an otherwise sensational mound appearance.
Arrieta fanned 12, including striking out the side in the ninth inning to end the game. Arrieta has 190 strikeouts on the season, ranking him fourth in the league, but his record of 17-6 has him atop the wins column. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner is second in the majors with 16. No AL hurler has more than 15 wins.
With an ERA of 2.11, Arrieta is a serious contender for NL Cy Young honors. Tossing a no-hitter and having your team vying for a playoff spot certainly won't hurt his chances.
For the Cubs the victory moved them 5 1/2 games ahead of the Giants for the second wild card spot. With San Fran losing to the Cardinals, 7-5, LA's loss kept the two separated by 3 1/2 games in the NL West race.
The Cubs open a six-game homestead with a three-game series against Cincinnati starting Monday night. Also beginning Monday night is a critical three-game series in LA with the Dodgers hosting the Giants.
NOTES: Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto has a hitting streak that reached 25 games on Sunday, the longest in the majors this season.