Derek Holland’s breakthrough season was showcased in the third inning of the Rangers’ 7-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.

Kansas City took a 1-0 lead on Alcides Escobar’s one-out RBI single. And Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin made Holland’s job more difficult, trying to throw out Chris Getz at third base rather than keeping Escobar at first.

Holland was faced with getting out of a runners-at-second-and-third jam with one out. He did it with two ground balls, one back to the pitcher and the other to third base.

“You want to control as much damage as you can,” Holland said.

It’s the maturation of Holland, who in the past probably would have given up another run or two. Not this season. The 26-year-old left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.81 and picked up his fourth win of the month. The first-place Rangers were 6-0 in May on Holland’s starts.

Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who got to face the younger Holland when he was with the Chicago White Sox, sees a pitcher who is coming of age.

"I don't think I've seen him this focused," Pierzynski said. "It always seemed like there was some kind of distraction. He's more comfortable. It's part of being a big leaguer and growing up.”

Holland gets it. He knows by attacking the zone and minimizing damage he gives a Rangers offense that can score runs in a hurry a chance to turn the game in one inning. That’s what happened in the third inning Friday night.