Apr 6, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland (56) looks at the ball during the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Royals 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Blown Save Brings Back Ugly Memories

On Saturday night, Greg Holland came in to protect a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth. He proceeded to walk three straight batters but struck the next two out before Kevin Frandsen delivered a bases-clearing, game-winning double.

Is that sinking feeling coming back? The ominous, anxious knot in your stomach that everything’s going to fall apart before it’s even put together?

April 11, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Jonny Gomes (31) is hit by pitch during the twelfth inning with bases loaded for the walk in run to defeat the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Remember last year? The Royals open up on the road, they’re looking to carry a winning record into the home opener and have a lead in Oakland. Jonathan Broxton got the first out, then Seth Smith reached on an error, Broxton walked the next two batters and a groundout tied the game. Then, with two outs, Broxton hit Yeonis Cespedes and Johnny Gomes in consecutive at bats and brought in the winning run.

The Royals came back to Kansas City, gave up seven runs in the first inning and lost every single home game on their way to a crippling 12-game losing streak and the season was effectively toast from that point on.

Last year’s catalyst for a meltdown could have been prevented – Alcides Escobar committed the error, and if he gets that out, the groundout that scored the tying run would have ended the game. On Saturday night, the Royals made an error – but on the basepaths – that could have gotten them an insurance run. Miguel Tejada doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice by Elliot Johnson, then got caught too far off third and picked off. Even after Chris Getz‘s fly out, if Tejada’s still there, Alex Gordon would have had a shot to bring him in.

It’s easy and expected and justified to be disappointed after a loss like that. I understand the worry, as well, since sudden a drastic swing can conjure the feeling of impending doom, and with last year’s early collapse in the back of everyone’s heads – including the players – maybe there’s a slight cause for worry.


The big difference between this season and last season is that the game after Broxton’s implosion was started by Luke Hochevar. Sunday’s game will see James Shields take the mound, a significant upgrade. His job at the top of the rotation is to take the ball in situation’s like this and be the stopper. He’s the reason most feel that another 12-game losing streak can’t happen again.

It’s fair to worry. It’s fair to be disappointed. But it’s not 2012 anymore and the Royals hope James Shields makes that point emphatically on Sunday and calms a fanbase’s nerves.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ccaltrider Caryn N Ryan Caltrider

    I fully expect a collapse to begin again now. This is what the Royals do. If we could just get over this antiquated idea that there has to be one designated closer then maybe this wouldn’t happen. Herrera was rolling and is perfectly capable of pitching two innings. My guess is he would have closed out the game in his second inning of work.

  • jimfetterolf

    I thought of Broxton, also, and remembered that last year Holland reminded me too much of Broxton when he became the closer, way too much drama. I thought, and still think, Holland is a great fireman, gets warm fast and thrives under pressure, but isn’t really comfortable as closer. Not that he’s bad, but it doesn’t fit his make up quite as well.

    Obvious fix after a few more blowns, if that happens, will be Herrera as closer, Holland back to fireman, and Hochevar as 7th inning set up. But it won’t happen quick, nor should it. Watched Holland on Gameday last night and he was painting the black and the knees, just not getting calls. If anything his stuff may have been too good. If we want to blame someone we could give a little to Perez for calling a fastball for the last pitch when a change or two-seam might have been a better choice. We had a two-run lead and Holland had fanned the previous hitters, so still room to pitch rather than just throw.

    As for panicking again, probably not. Shields today, then Santana and Guthrie, I don’t see long losing streaks happening just as I don’t see meltdowns by the closer becoming a pattern.

    As for Herrera pitching more than one inning, had that discussion with Lee last year and he asked around and found out that if that is possible that the reliever has to know it going in. A one-inning man gives it everything, two-innings he holds back and tries to establish an extra pitch after getting warm, throwing an inning, then sitting down and getting back up rather than hitting the shower.

  • Michael Engel

    Nice of the Royals to come out and render the Shields-as-stopper hope to shreds. Ugh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ccaltrider Caryn N Ryan Caltrider

    Season destruction commence in 3-2-1…

    • http://www.facebook.com/ccaltrider Caryn N Ryan Caltrider

      Maybe I will have to get used to this team being able to come back. It will take a while to undo 27 years of getting used to gloom and doom.

      • jimfetterolf

        Not a lot of the players are even 27 years old. Live in the moment and look to the future.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ccaltrider Caryn N Ryan Caltrider

          Now the future also looks just as bad.

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