Derek Holland hasn't caught a lot of breaks the past two seasons. He hopes his persistence pays off with the Texas Rangers in the middle of a playoff race.
The left-hander will take the mound for the first time since the home opener Wednesday night when the host Rangers try to avoid their ninth loss in 12 meetings with the Seattle Mariners this season.
After going 38-21 with a 3.98 ERA with Texas from 2011-13, Holland missed the first five months of last season following left knee surgery. He seemed poised for a bounce-back 2015 after going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in six September outings.
Holland (0-1, 9.00 ERA), though, lasted just nine pitches in his first start April 10 due to tightness in his shoulder. He finally showed enough to be cleared Friday after allowing two earned runs over five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock.
He'll look to help Texas get back on track after its five-game winning streak and eight-game run at home ended in Tuesday's 3-2 loss.
The Rangers (60-58) were in last place when Holland returned in September. This time, they're four games back of AL West-leading Houston and 1 1/2 out of a wild-card spot.
"I need to make sure I don't put any added pressure on myself but keep the same intensity," Holland told MLB's official website. "I feel ready, and I trust my ability."
Holland is 8-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mariners, going 3-0 with a 1.12 mark over his last six meetings.
Mark Trumbo, however, is hitting .289 with four home runs against him and Robinson Cano has batted .357 in the matchup.
Former Ranger Nelson Cruz had an RBI double and Seth Smith hit a two-run homer Tuesday as Seattle scored all of its runs in the first inning. Cruz is batting .432 in the 11 matchups in 2015 and has reached base in an AL season-high 29 straight overall.
The Mariners (56-64) are looking for their fifth win in six games in Arlington, but they'll likely need a much better performance from Mike Montgomery (4-5, 4.14). The left-hander went 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA in his first seven starts but has posted a 7.99 ERA in seven since - all Seattle losses.
Montgomery gave up a season-high nine runs over 2 1-3 innings of Friday's 15-1 loss at Boston. He allowed three runs over four in an 11-3, 11-inning home defeat to Texas in his previous outing Aug. 8.
"It's really not hard to analyze," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "If you look at the film, you see a lot of balls waist-high, middle of the plate, up out over the plate. Just no deception at all."
The Rangers scored 32 runs and hit eight homers during their winning streak. Rougned Odor homered and had two of the team's five hits off Hisashi Iwakuma on Tuesday.
Former Mariner Adrian Beltre batted .478 during a six-game hitting streak before going 0 for 4.
With Josh Hamilton nursing a sore left knee, the Rangers acquired Will Venable from San Diego on Tuesday. Venable, batting .258 with six home runs and 30 RBIs, is expected to join the team Thursday.