Holland bounces back after first blown save
ARLINGTON -- Royals closer Greg Holland had no idea when he last threw two innings in a game, only that he had just done it in the Royals' 7-6 win in 10 innings against the Rangers on Tuesday night.
When Holland was told that his last two-inning stint came on Aug. 5, 2012, against these Rangers, in a game the Royals also won, it all soaked in.
"How about that?" said Holland, who picked up his first win of the season. "Irony. The longer I stand here, my story gets written for me."
Holland had a few moments on Tuesday night that hadn't happened in a while, including his first blown save since last July 24 against Cleveland, snapping a string of 26 consecutive saves. He also gave up his first run of the season.
Holland had been perfect in his first seven appearances, then came the bottom of the ninth with the Royals clinging to a 6-5 lead. Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo opened with a single to right. Elvis Andrus was successful on a sacrifice bunt to move Choo to second. Holland got the second out on a one-hop scorcher by Prince Fielder to third baseman Mike Moustakas.
That brought up a classic matchup between Holland and Adrian Beltre. Holland went to a full count, and with first base open and Rangers backup catcher Carlos Corporan on deck, Holland first challenged Beltre with a fastball, then threw two straight sliders, the second of which got too much of the plate. Beltre lined it into center field to tie the game at 6.
"He's a good hitter, and in that situation with the tying run on second, you have to be smart about where you throw the baseball, and I knew that," Holland said. "I just didn't get it there. It wasn't pitch selection, it was where I threw it."
The Royals never considered putting Beltre on with first base open.
"Closers, especially the really good ones, they're not into intentionally walking anybody," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And that's what makes them so good. They want to match up against anybody. So that thought really didn't come into my mind."
The momentum turned though when Beltre was picked off first base by catcher Salvador Perez to end the ninth. The Royals' first batter of the 10th inning, Alex Gordon, hammered the first pitch down the right-field line for a home run and a 7-6 lead.
Holland came back with authority in the bottom of the 10th, striking out Corporan and Carlos Peguero, and then getting Thomas Field to ground out in front of home plate.
Holland never hesitated when pitching coach Dave Eiland asked him if wanted to go back out for the 10th inning. Holland knew the Royals had already used three relievers, and with him pitching for the third time in four days, he likely wouldn't be available for Wednesday's game.
So why not go back out.
"[Dave] asked me how I felt, and I told him I felt fine," Holland said. "Basically, I just made one bad pitch to a good hitter in a situation I know better than to do that."