Royals reliever Greg Holland hits a milestone

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland threw the last pitch of the ninth inning Friday, ensuring a 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants and gaining his 100th career save.
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland threw the last pitch of the ninth inning Friday, ensuring a 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants and gaining his 100th career save. The Kansas City Star

Royals closer Greg Holland isn’t afraid to dream big.

After recording his 100th career save to close out Friday’s 4-2 win over the Giants at Kauffman Stadium, Holland was asked if maybe he could get a couple of hundred more saves in his career.

Reaching 300 career saves is something only 26 other pitchers have done in major-league history.

“I hope,” Holland said with a grin. “I hope there’s 700 more. That’s probably unlikely, though.”

Holland broke into a laugh, knowing that former Yankees legend Mariano Rivera holds the all-time record with 652 saves.

Truth be told, Holland didn’t care much about reaching a milestone Friday.

“It means we won the game,” Holland said. “I know it’s something I’m going to look back on at the end of my career, however long or short that may be, and appreciate it. Right now we just want to stay focused on the task at hand. We beat a pretty good team tonight, and that’s pretty rewarding.”

Holland has twice been an All-Star and he’s converted 80 of 85 save opportunities (94.1 percent) since the start of 2013. That’s the most saves in the American League in that span, second only to Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel (82) in all of baseball.

On Friday, he needed just 11 pitches to get his 33rd save of the season, picking up two strikeouts in the process.

Manager Ned Yost seemed to get a bit choked up when asked about Holland.

“I just feel, I don’t know the right word, but privileged if you will, to have been able to have seen all 100 of them,” Yost said. “To see him come up from the first day he pitched in the big leagues, I still remember that game in Oakland (on Aug. 2, 2010) when he came in the ballgame and then matured into a closer and now to get a hundred saves.

“It’s a good feeling to have a guy that when you put him out in the ninth inning with a lead that you feel really, really confident you’re going into that clubhouse with a win.”

Holland soaked it all in afterward. Well, he got soaked. Catcher Salvy Perez and pitcher Danny Duffy dumped a cooler of water on Holland.

Holland is fourth in Royals history in saves behind Jeff Montgomery (304), Dan Quisenberry (238) and Joakim Soria (160).

Good replay news

Replay officials in New York were kept busy early in the game.

In the second inning, the umpiring crew reviewed a drive down the left-field line by Giants left fielder Juan Perez that was a foul ball. Had it been fair, Perez would have had a three-run homer. But the ruling was confirmed, and Perez ended up striking out.

An inning later, Hunter Pence dashed from first to third on a single by Pablo Sandoval. Despite a strong throw from right fielder Nori Aoki, Pence was ruled safe at third.

Or was he?

Yost challenged, saying Pence came off the bag with the slide and all the while third baseman Mike Moustakas held the tag. Yost was right and while the Giants scored twice in the inning, it could have been worse.

Team makes homers count

Pitching and defense have defined the Royals and put them squarely in the postseason chase.

But during their latest surge — 12 victories in the past 15 games headed into Friday’s contest against the Giants — the Royals have not only displayed power, they’ve made the most of it.

Most of the 12 home runs in those 15 games have been game-changers.

Start with Billy Butler’s two two-run homers that broke ties late in victories against the Indians on successive nights.

Also consider Raul Ibañez’s shot in a 1-0 victory over the A’s. In the sweep at Arizona, the Royals started their scoring with home runs in each game, and the blasts by Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon gave the Royals leads they never surrendered.

Most of this has happened without one of the team’s hottest hitters, Eric Hosmer, who has been nursing a stress fracture in his hand.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” Butler said. “Guys take pride in that.”

The Royals’ 67 home runs remain the least in baseball, eight fewer than the Cardinals and 17 behind the Rangers in the American League.

Moose surpasses .200

Moustakas entered Friday hitting .199, the precipice of the so-called Mendoza Line.

The only numbers he’s thinking about right now are wins, he said, but he couldn’t help but chuckle when asked about the prospect of turning over that first digit.

“I had a ‘two’ up earlier in the year,” he said, smiling. “It felt great for three at-bats, and it kind of slid away from me. … It’s always nice looking up (on the scoreboard) and not seeing a ‘one’” at the start of his average.

The next time he looks up, it will feel great again. Moustakas went one for three Friday and is now at .201.

Worth noting

The Royals improved to 12-4 in interleague games this season.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a scoreless seventh inning and has a 0.45 ERA since June 7, allowing one run in 20 2/3 innings.

Wade Davis didn’t allow a run in the eighth inning and has given up one run in his last 39 innings (0.23 ERA).

Erik Kratz started for the second time since joining the Royals in the Danny Valencia deal with the Blue Jays on July 28. He was the designated hitter.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.

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