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Holland gets good reception in return to KC

Rockies closer looking to bounce back after a few rough outings
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

KANSAS CITY -- The reception for Rockies closer Greg Holland from a large Kansas City media contingent in the visiting dugout Tuesday was warm and admirable. He couldn't wrap his mind around how wonderful it would be hours later, when Kauffman Stadium would fill.

Holland helped the Royals get to the World Series in 2014 and win it in 2015 before signing with the Rockies last winter. Tuesday marked his first game in Kansas City as a visitor. Holland admitted feeling strange about the possibility of receiving a big ovation, even though he could potentially be trying to secure a win against the home team.

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KANSAS CITY -- The reception for Rockies closer Greg Holland from a large Kansas City media contingent in the visiting dugout Tuesday was warm and admirable. He couldn't wrap his mind around how wonderful it would be hours later, when Kauffman Stadium would fill.

Holland helped the Royals get to the World Series in 2014 and win it in 2015 before signing with the Rockies last winter. Tuesday marked his first game in Kansas City as a visitor. Holland admitted feeling strange about the possibility of receiving a big ovation, even though he could potentially be trying to secure a win against the home team.

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"It's kind of a different element, but I hope that once the game starts, I'll just be able to play baseball," said Holland, who was given a pregame curtain call after a video tribute on the crown-shaped scoreboard in center field. "I try not to think about that stuff. Many good memories playing here, culminating with a World Series. It's really cool. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to do some of those things."

Holland represented the Rockies in the All-Star Game in July, but he arrived in Kansas City struggling. He's 1-for-3 on save chances in his previous five games, with eight hits, including three homers, five walks and nine runs in 4 1/3 innings.

With the slider, his signature pitch, opposing hitters batted .103 (8-for-78) against it before the recent slump, third-lowest among pitchers with 75 at-bats against. In the past five games, they've hit .313 (5-for-16). Hitters had been swinging and missing at 53.2 percent of the sliders; during the skid, that figure dropped to 28.6 percent.

Video: ATL@COL: Holland retires Albies to earn 35th save

Also, the fastball batting average was at .250 but has been .600 (3-for-5) of late, and after posting a 23.8 percent whiff rate with the slider, he has gotten no swings and misses the last five games.

The strike rate is also down: 56 percent, as opposed to 65 percent previously.

"This late in the season, everyone's going to have some sort of fatigue, but I feel really good compared to where I've been in years past, and strong. Hopefully that'll translate come playoff time," Holland said.

But manager Bud Black noted that despite the cumulative numbers, Holland's troubles occurred on a few poorly executed pitches - a hit batsman here, a fastball instead of a slider there, plus some good sliders fought off by hitters and bad sliders hit hard.

"It isn't like he's getting barraged," Black said. "Is he just a touch off? Yeah. Is he, like, way off? I don't think so. That's just me. Time will tell."

Worth noting

• The Rockies scratched Gerardo Parra from Tuesday's lineup. Parra was sporting an eclipse-resembling bruise on the outside of his right thigh, courtesy of being hit by a pitch from the Brewers' Chase Anderson on Sunday. Raimel Tapia, called up Tuesday as outfielder Mike Tauchman was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, started in right field.

Parra pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the Rockies' 3-2 loss and drew a walk after a seven-pitch at-bat, then was replaced by pinch-runner Alexi Amarista.

• The Rockies also placed catcher Ryan Hanigan (left groin strain) on the 10-day disabled list and recalled catcher Tony Wolters from Albuquerque.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Greg Holland