Checkmate! It's game over when Royals' Davis and Holland take over
JUN 10, 2014 1:00p ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Center fielder Lorenzo Cain often has the best view in the house.
As he bends his knees and peers into the infield and the batter's box, Cain can see Wade Davis' cutter slice up hitter after hitter. After that, Cain observes as Greg Holland's splider (a splitter/slider) dives without warning into the dirt as yet another hitter waves helplessly at the offering.
"I tell ya, it's just a beautiful thing to watch," Cain says. "I can see every detail of their pitches, the two-seamers, the cutters, the splitters. It's really fun.
"It's the most enjoyable part of the game."
Enjoyable because when Davis and Holland enter the game, the Royals have the lead. And when they're done doing their thing, the Royals still have the lead. And a win. Almost automatically.
"They're so good that all I can say is I'm glad I'm standing behind them," Cain says, "and not in front of them trying to face them. That'd be a nightmare."
How automatic? Well, Davis hasn't allowed a run since April 23. That was 15 appearances and 18 innings ago.
And Davis doesn't just get hitters out -- he often humiliates them. In 28 1/3 innings, Davis has a 1.27 ERA and has struck out an absurd 46 hitters. Forty-six.
"He's almost unhittable," manager Ned Yost says, smiling.
For Yost, having a late-inning combo such as Davis and Holland is a manager's ultimate defensive weapon.
In baseball parlance, the duo essentially shorten the game to seven innings. If the Royals have the lead after seven ... it's checkmate.
"That's a wonderful thing for me as a manager," Yost said. "The security of that. I don't know who has been better than those two."
And as good as Davis has been, Holland has been almost as dominating.
Holland has a 1.46 ERA. In 24 2/3 innings, he has struck out 38. He has converted 18 of 19 save situations, his only blown save coming May 5.
"When we bring those guys in," Yost says, "your thought is always that we're going to win."
Whether or not the Davis-Holland combo is the best in baseball, though, seems to matter little to either one.
"I really don't care or even think about it," Holland says. "It all comes down to just getting the job done. We each have a job to do. As long as we do it, I'm happy."
Davis couldn't agree more.
"Everyone in here (the clubhouse) has a job to do," he says. "We're expected to do our job. You can't be perfect, but you try to be."
As similar as their approaches seem, their personalities on the mound are not. Davis rarely displays emotion on or off the diamond. But don't be fooled, his teammates say.
"Oh, he's a competitor," Holland says. "He's a fighter. Underneath he has a lot of fire. He wants to get everyone out. You might not see it, but we do."
Holland perhaps does a bit more huffing and puffing on the mound. He occasionally punches his fist into his glove, and more often than not he flings just about every body part toward the plate to get movement on his pitches. And his face tends to show more determination.
Whatever it takes, Holland says.
"I'm not aware of how it looks," he says. "I'm just aware of the results."
And so is everyone else.
"If there's a better combination out there," Cain says, "you'll have to show me. I doubt it."