That happens to be exactly what the closer did, as Holland blew his first save of the year in the Royals' 4-3 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night. Holland walked three and gave up a walk-off three-run double to pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen, only the third hit of the night for the Phillies.
The loss blew a fine outing from starter Luis Mendoza, who worked six innings in which he allowed one run on two hits with seven strikeouts. Jeff Francoeur led the offense with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs scored as the Royals managed just six hits on the night.
Holland came into the ninth in a save situation with a 3-1 lead and was fired up and erratic. Against a Phillies offense that had been mostly quiet, the right-hander walked Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to open the inning on 11 pitches.
Former Rangers All-Star Michael Young stepped in and looked to end the game with a mighty swing on a 3-1 fastball but missed, and after a foul ball, Holland uncorked a ball that rolled to the backstop to load the bases.
"[Holland] had his best stuff of the year," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was throwing a 97 miles per hour fastball, just his command was just a tick off. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. I think we walked four guys and all of them scored."
Holland settled down enough to strike out Domonic Brown on three pitches. John Mayberry Jr. followed and struck out looking, which brought Frandsen to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
"He walks the bases loaded then he gets the next two guys, and you think we're going to get out of it," Yost said. "I had all the confidence in the world that we would, but Frandsen did a nice job leaning on a fastball right there."
Frandsen hit the first offering into right-center for a three-run double and the win.
"I never felt like I was off track," Holland said. "I just didn't hit the strike zone. I didn't execute that pitch [to Frandsen]. It was up and out over the plate. He was ready to hit early in the count and I was expecting him to be swinging. I just didn't execute the pitch."
Mendoza had at least one strikeout in five of his six innings and kept the Phillies off balance throughout the night. The Phillies managed to get just three runners into scoring position, and Ben Revere drove in one of those with a single that glanced off the top of Miguel Tejada's outstretched glove.
"I felt pretty good when I was out there," said Mendoza, who has five consecutive quality starts dating back to September 13 of last season. "I was able to keep the ball down and use my breaking ball well. Everything worked good.
"The end of the game, that's all a part of the game. You can't say anything about it. My job is to go out there and give my team a chance to win, and today I did that."
Phillies starter John Lannan had opened the game with four no-hit innings -- only Alex Gordon reached base on an error -- and had done so on 43 pitches. He then hit Lorenzo Cain to lead off the fifth and Francoeur -- who is 15-for-28 lifetime (.536 average) against Lannan with six doubles, a home run and six RBIs -- broke up the no-hitter with the first of his two doubles.
The Phillies brought the corners in but kept the middle infield back, so a ground ball to Utley at second by Tejada scored the first run of the night. The Phillies then brought both Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins in to try and prevent a second run, but Elliot Johnson found the hole on the right side for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
"It was a well-pitched game," Yost said. "Lannan, I thought, was pretty darn good too. The guys kept coming back in telling us how good his changeup was. He kept us off balance all night. To muster three runs, I thought we did a pretty good job in those situations."
The Phillies responded in the bottom half of the inning, as Mayberry Jr. led off the inning with a walk. After a lineout, Lannan helped his own cause with a sacrifice bunt that moved Mayberry to second. Revere followed with a lined single to left that hit off the top of Tejada's glove, and Mayberry raced around third to pull the Phillies within 2-1.