ROYALS NOTEBOOK

Royals closer Greg Holland shrugs off saves record, points to key victory

Updated: 2013-09-25T01:35:12Z

By BOB DUTTON

The Kansas City Star

— The latest member of Club 45 greeted the moment late Monday by wishing it hadn’t happened.

“If we had been up five (runs), I would have been a lot happier,” said Royals closer Greg Holland after securing his 45th save of the season by working out of a 12th-inning jam in a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

“You can kind of take a deep breath in that situation. As long as we’re winning, I don’t really care how it happens or what right now. We just need every win we can get and to keep playing good ball.”

Holland’s 45th save, which came after he walked the first two hitters, tied the franchise’s single-season record set in 1983 by Dan Quisenberry and matched in 1993 by Jeff Montgomery.

“For me, the big thing was that it was a win for us,” Holland said. “We had to win that game, and we did.”

Not easily.

Holland put the tying and winning runs on base before retiring the next three hitters. He ended the game by getting a borderline call on a full-count slider from umpire Vic Carapazza that left Michael Saunders fuming.

“It’s one of those pitches that you get about 50-50,” Holland said. “I think every stat-tracker thing in the world would call it a strike, but you just don’t get it sometimes.

“It looks low when the catcher catches it, but it’s actually not when it crosses the plate. I thought it was a strike, but it was kind of up in the air if I was going to get it or not.”

Holland opted to throw a slider, rather than a fastball, after a quick conference with catcher Salvy Perez. The key factor: the next hitter was Henry Blanco, who had a .142 average.

“We knew we had a righty on deck,” Holland said, “so we went with a slider and took our chances there because we were comfortable in facing the guy on deck. We didn’t to give in and throw a heater.

“That’s the conversation Salvy and I had. So we went with the slider and got a call.”

And a piece of the record.

“Maybe it will sink in later when I’m sitting at home in the off-season,” Holland said, “but now, I’m just concerned with helping us win.”

Monday’s victory pulled the Royals, 83-73, to within three games of Cleveland for the American League’s final wild-card berth. Both teams entered Tuesday with six games remaining.

That’s also six games for Holland to claim the record all for his own.

Thumbs up on Shields

Right-hander James Shields pronounced himself ready to start Friday in Chicago, as scheduled, after testing his bruised upper arm by throwing a 26-pitch bullpen session prior to the game.

“Schedule me for Friday,” he said. “I was throwing 94 (mph) in the bullpen. Good to go.”

Shields was struck by a David Murphy line drive in the third inning of Sunday’s game against Texas at Kauffman Stadium. Shields received in-game treatment to limit the swelling and worked eight shutout innings.

Friday’s game will be his last start of the regular season. Shields is 12-9 with a 3.21 ERA and leads the American League with 33 starts, 221⅔ innings and 26 quality starts.

Ventura again

It’s no surprise, but manager Ned Yost confirmed rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura is slotted to start again Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago.

Ventura gained a second straight no-decision Monday despite again turning over a lead to the bullpen. He has allowed one run over 5⅔ innings in each of his two starts.

“I thought he was awesome,” Yost said. “He cracked his nail a little bit in the third inning, but they got it trimmed up, and it didn’t affect him. It’s just when he got into the sixth, he started laboring a little bit.”

FanFest scheduled

Mark your calendars … the Royals announced their 2014 FanFest will take place Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Bartle Hall in the Kansas City Convention Center.

The event permits fans to interact with numerous players and club officials over the two days. In addition to offering memorabilia and the latest merchandise, the Royals will honor their 2013 award winners.

The Royals are offering exclusive access on both days to their 2014 season ticketholders, who will receive an email with instructions for purchasing admittance to those sessions.

The general public will be admitted from 2-9 p.m. on Jan. 31, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 1. Adult advance tickets cost $13 for one day and $23 for both days. Youth tickets are available. Prices at the door are slightly higher.

Fans can purchase advance tickets online at Royals.com/FanFest. They are also available at the Kauffman Stadium Box Office during business hours or by calling 816-504-4040.

Last Magic act?

Pending free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana makes perhaps his final start in a Royals’ uniform in Wednesday’s series finale against Seattle at Safeco Field.

Santana carries a 9-9 record into the game along with a 3.16 ERA that, at the moment, is the lowest of his nine-year career. His previous best was 3.38 for the Angels in 2011.

The Royals acquired Santana, 30, in an Oct. 31, 2012 trade from the Angels for minor-league reliever Brandon Sisk.

The move represented a payroll dump by Los Angeles; the Royals are paying all but $1 million of Santana’s $13 million salary, which completes a five-year, $42 million deal signed on Feb. 14, 2009.

Forty-three comebacks

While the Royals twice blew two-run leads before winning 6-5 Monday in 12 innings against the Mariners, they also overcame a 3-2 deficit in the eighth inning.

So it goes in the books as the Royals’ 43rd comeback victory which, through Monday, tied Atlanta for the second-highest total in the majors behind Texas’ 45.

Seventeen and counting

Left fielder Alex Gordon climbed into a tie with Arizona’s Gerardo Parra for the major-league lead in outfield assists by getting his 17th on an inning-ending double play at the plate Monday in the 10th inning.

Gordon gathered in Endy Chavez’s medium-deep fly and made an online throw to catcher Salvy Perez that nailed Kyle Seager on a bang-bang play and maintained a 5-5 tie.

“Chavez, we've played with him for a long time,” Gordon said, “and we've seen him in batting practice. So I knew he liked to go that way, and I knew there was a chance I was going to have to make that play.

“I kind of visualized it before it happened and, luckily, I’ve got Salvy back there, who always makes a good play.”

Gordon has 54 outfield assists since the start of the 2011 season, which is 16 more than any other outfielder. Detroit’s Torii Hunter ranks second in that span with 38.

Need 19 more Ks

The Royals, as a staff, registered 13 strikeouts in Monday’s victory, which boosted their season total to 1,159, which ranks as the second-highest total in franchise history.

The record, set last year, is 1,177 — so the Royals need to record 19 strikeouts over the season’s final six games to break that record.

Winning month

The Royals, by winning Monday, clinched a winning record for September by improving to 14-7 with six games remaining. It also means they will finish with five winning months for the first time since 1985.

Month-by-month breakdown: 14-10 in April, 8-20 in May, 16-11 in June, 15-10 in July, 16-15 in August and 14-7 with six games remaining in September.

The 1985 Royals actually had six winning months: 11-8 in April, 14-13 in May, 12-14 in June, 17-10 in July, 15-12 in August, 18-12 in September and 4-2 in October.

The Royals have never finished a season with a winning record in every month.

Looking back

It was 20 years ago Wednesday — Sept. 25, 1993 — that future Hall of Famer George Brett announced plans to retire at the end of the season and accept a job with the club as a vice president of baseball operations.

Royals single-season saves leaders

Greg Holland (2013): 45

Jeff Montgomery (1993): 45

Dan Quisenberry (1983): 45

Dan Quisenberry (1984): 44

Joakim Soria (2010): 43

Joakim Soria (2008): 42

To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.

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