Holland picks up a historic save in Royals’ bounce-back win in Texas

Greg Holland picked up his 40th save of the season Friday night. 

LM Otero/AP

This is what good teams do.

Bouncing back from a discouraging 5-2 loss to Colorado on Wednesday, the Royals overmatched the Texas Rangers, 6-3, on Friday night.

With the win, the Royals pulled back within 2 1/2 games of Baltimore for the No. 2 seed in the playoff chase.

Kansas City came into the night with a 1 1/2-game lead on Detroit, and picked up a game after the Tigers got pounded by Minnesota, 20-6.

With a Detroit loss, the Royals are guaranteed at least a tie for first place when they return to The K on Monday for a 10-game homestand. Detroit has a doubleheader Saturday with Minnesota and another game with the Twins Sunday.

The Royals got six solid innings from starter Yordano Ventura, who gave up just one run while walking two and fanning six, before letting the Royals’ Big Three of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland shut down the Rangers in the final innings. Holland picked up his 40th save and became the second Royal ever to record 40 or more saves in back-to-back years. Dan Quisenberry did it in 1983-84.

"It just tells you I’ve had opportunities," Holland told FOX Sports Kansas City’s Joel Goldberg.

Lorenzo Cain had three hits, drove in a run, stole a base and scored a run.

"We just have to pick each other up each night," Cain said on the Royals Live postgame show. "One night someone has a bad night and someone picks him up."

3 UP

— Billy bomb. The Royals were facing a pitcher in Colby Lewis who is absolutely horrible at home. Lewis’ 7.29 ERA at Globe Life Park in Arlington this year was the second worst in baseball history. Billy Butler got the Royals going by blasting his eighth home run of the season to start a three-run second inning.

— Josh’s presence. Before Friday’s game, Josh Willingham had made a huge impact offensively since joining the Royals. Willingham was hitting .345 with a .973 OPS. And he continued to help the cause Friday by blasting another home run — his second with Kansas City — to lead off the fourth inning.

— Ventura battles. Ventura got in trouble in the bottom of the sixth and the game was in the balance. With two runners on and two out, Ventura got Leonys Martin to hit a high pop-up in foul territory. Catcher Sal Perez made the play to get the Royals out of the inning while protecting a three-run lead. That allowed skipper Ned Yost the option of going to his Big Three.

3 DOWN

— Mental lapses. The Royals had a tough time figuring out how many outs there were Friday night. In the first inning, after Ventura had already given up a run, he got Mike Carp swinging for strike three to end the inning. The problem was that Ventura had no idea it was the third out. After the strikeout, Ventura walked behind the mound as if there were two out.


Worse yet, Nori Aoki also lost count of the outs in the second inning when he came up with runners on first and second and one out. Aoki bunted as if there were none out and he was trying to advance the runners. He was successful with his sac bunt, but when he got back to the dugout, his teammates reminded him there was one out when he bunted. He seemed stunned.

— Bad defense. It didn’t cost the Royals, but the Rangers taxed Ventura’s pitch count in the fourth. Adrian Beltre hit an innocent pop-up near first base with none out, but Butler somehow lost the ball completely and whiffed on catching it (just like the pop-up he lost in Oakland). Fortunately, the ball fell foul by an inch. But Beltre then hit a fly ball to deep right after that error, and Aoki mis-timed the ball on his leap and it fell for a double. Most right fielders would have caught the ball with barely a leap, but Aoki jumped as high as he could and just missed it. It was ruled a double, but fortunately, the Rangers didn’t score.

— Strange move. Yost took out Ventura after 99 pitches through six and brought in Francisley Bueno, a move that backfired. Herrera was rested and ready to go, but Yost went with Bueno, who promptly gave up two doubles and two runs, suddenly making it a two-run game. Herrera did come in with one out and a runner on third and eventually got the Royals out of it with a 5-3 lead.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.