Royals closer Greg Holland offered a glimpse into the mind-set typically adopted by players in dealing with the ups and downs of a long season and how it varies from the publics sharper mood swings.
By BOB DUTTON and PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Asked whether he sensed a more upbeat mood in the clubhouse after three straight victories, Holland shook his head and then tried to explain.
When we lost eight straight, I showed up at the yard ready to win that day, he said, I try to shrink things down to one pitch, one inning and from there, one game.
If you look at it that were eight (games) back, or whatever we were when we werent playing well you can kind of dig yourself a hole if you start thinking too broad.
Youve just got to focus on today and chip away. Play as good as you can and win that day. If you dont win, you wake up the next day ready to win that one. Thats kind of how I go about it.
Holland added he does believe the Royals handled their recent struggles (4-19 from May 6-29) better than in previous years.
Last year, I think at times we kind of got down on ourselves as a team, he said. Being young and not really struggling that much in the minor leagues, we learned from it.
This year, weve stayed confident. Weve played well. Its not like we were getting blown out. We just hadnt got that timely hit. But the last few games, weve done that.
Left fielder Alex Gordon wasnt in the starting lineup for the first time all season, and manager Ned Yost rolled his eyes when asked if the day off was injury related.
The kid gets one day off every three months, and you want to know if something is wrong with him? Yost asked. Hes fine. Its just one of those days where you want to give him a day off.
The move comes while Gordon is battling through his first extended slump of the season. He entered Saturday with just 10 hits in his last 59 at-bats, which dropped his average from .356 to .310.
Everybody scuffles and everybody is going to scuffle, Yost said. Its just a good day, against a lefty (Houston veteran Erik Bedard), to give him a break.
David Lough replaced Gordon in left field and as the leadoff hitter. Shifting Lough from right to left opened a starting spot for Jeff Francoeur for the first time since last Sundays 3-1 loss at Texas.
Yost said he made it clear to Gordon that he expected him to rest.
I told him, I dont really want you doing much, Yost said, because he is the hardest worker weve got. `I dont want you to go out and take 90 swings in the cage. In fact, you dont have to BP.
`I dont want you running around and shagging balls in the outfield today. Just take it easy. Hell be back in there (Sunday).
Local draft flavor
The Royals 30 selections in Saturdays conclusion to baseballs three-day draft included two first basemen, two shortstops and two pitchers from the greater metropolitan area.
Longview first baseman Brandon Dulin, a 12th-round pick, was characterized by Baseball America as the best non-pitcher in Missouri because of his left-handed power potential.
The Royals also selected Kansas State first baseman Shane Conlon in the 21st round, Rockhurst High School shortstop Logan Gray in the 25th round and Kansas shortstop Kevin Kuntz in the 28th round.
Kuntz is the son of Royals first base coach Rusty Kuntz.
The Royals chose Park Hill lefty Dalton Moats in the 33rd round and Missouri right-hander Keaton Steele in the 40th and final round.
The broadcast auction, held Friday by the Royals in conjunction with Fox Sports Kansas City, netted $83,000 through a combination of game-day experiences and ticket packages.
The top price was $15,000, which one fan paid to have lunch with Hall of Famer/interim hitting coach George Brett and former catchers Jason Kendall and John Wathan. That package also included on-field time with Brett.
The Royals relief corps carried a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless appearances, covering 14 innings, into Saturdays game against the Astros.
The streak started last Sunday when Tim Collins pitched one-third of an inning against Texas. The bullpen is a combined 2-0 with two saves and three holds in that span.
Further, the bullpen, prior to Saturday had retired 22 of the last 23 opponents.
Lough leads off
David Lough, who batted leadoff Saturday, dismissed the notion that being atop the lineup card was anything special.
Its just another position, Lough said. It doesn't matter where I am in the lineup. I take the same approach as I would batting sixth or seventh and try not to do too much.
Lough is batting .283 with six extra-base hits among his 15 hits this season. He has one walk and nine strikeouts. At Class AAA Omaha, Lough batted leadoff in all but six of his 37 games this season.
The type of hitter I am, Lough said, I just try to get in good counts and get a good pitch to hit. I think everybody knows I'm a pretty aggressive hitter.
But being in that leadoff spot, if they want me to take more pitches, I will. But I don't think that's the case.
Former Royals first-round picks are having a tough time in the minors.
Last year's No. 1 choice, pitcher Kyle Zimmer, failed to make it out of the first inning Friday for Hi-A Wilmington, which lost 5-0 at Winston-Salem.
Zimmer, 0-6, faced nine batters and gave up five hits, walked one and hit another batter. He recorded just two outs (both via strikeout) and allowed all five runs as his ERA climbed to 6.32.
In his last five starts, Zimmer has given up 27 runs (22 earned) on 27 hits in 19 2/3 innings (10.07 ERA). He has struck out 24 in that span and walked nine.
At Lo-A Lexington, 2011 first-round choice Bubba Starling, an outfielder, is having a difficult time shaking his slump, even after recently undergoing LASIK. He is batting .203 at six for 35 (.171) in his last 10 games.
Infielder Christian Colon, the Royals first pick in 2010, is zero for his last 22. His average is down to .227.
It was 25 years ago Saturday June 8, 1988 that Jeff Montgomery recorded the first of his club-record 304 saves by recording the final five outs in a 5-4 victory over Oakland at then-Royals Stadium.
Montgomery, now 51, pitched for the Royals through the 1999 season and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2003. He also holds the club record for appearances by a pitcher with 686.