Greg Holland has been about as reliable as any closer in baseball since taking over as the Royals closer in 2012. Tonight, Holland proved that he is, in fact, human, as he suffered through a rare meltdown in the ninth inning as the Royals lost 7-5.
With a pitching matchup of James Shields against the Seattle Mariners Hisashi Iwakuma, it would have been expected that runs would be at a premium. Instead, the Mariners offense was in attack mode from the beginning. Former Royals Endy Chavez doubled to lead off the game, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Robinson Cano made certain that the opportunity was not lost, as he grounded a base hit through a drawn in infield to give the Mariners a quick 1-0 lead.
Seattle extended that lead the the fourth inning. With two outs, Mike Zunino crushed Shields’ 0-1 offering to left for a solo home run, putting the Mariners ahead 2-0. An inning later, the Mariners continued to pour on the runs, scoring three more in the fifth on Cano’s RBI double and a two run home run from Logan Morrison to give Seattle a 5-0 lead.
Just when it seemed that a packed Kauffman Stadium had come out for the same old Royals, the Kansas City offense came to life. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Salvador Perez put the Royals on the board with a solo home run to left. After Lorenzo Cain doubled, Mike Moustakas hit a shot to right for a two run home run, re-energizing the crowd as the Royals pulled to within two runs.
Kansas City tied the game in the next inning. Iwakuma allowed consecutive singles to Billy Butler and Alex Gordon to put runners at first and second to lead off the bottom of the sixth before being pulled from the game. Dominic Leone came on and gave up an RBI single to Perez and a run scoring fielder’s choice to Cain as the Royals drew even.
The Royals had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Butler led off the inning with an infield single(!!), and was followed by a base hit by Gordon to put runners at first and second. Perez flew out to center, and a tagging Butler was hit by the throw in, allowing both runners to advance. An intentional walk loaded the bases, bringing up Moustakas with a chance to put the Royals on top. Moustakas flared the ball over second, but Cano made a running catch to prevent a run from coming in. Charlie Furbush then struck out Alcides Escobar to end the threat.
That was when everything came apart. Greg Holland came on for the top of the ninth, and gave up a home run to Brad Miller, putting the Mariners back on top. After two quick outs, Holland lost the strike zone. After giving up a base hit to James Jones, he walked Cano and Kyle Seager to load the bases. Morrison followed with a base hit to center, scoring Jones. Cano was thrown out at the plate to end the inning, but the damage had been done with the Mariners holding a 7-5 lead.
Once again, the Royals fought back, putting runners at first and second with one out against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney. However, Rodney got pinch hitter Nori Aoki to ground into a fielder’s choice and struck out Alex Gordon on three pitches to preserve the 7-5 victory for the Mariners.
Holland took the loss, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks in his inning of work. James Shields had another rough outing for the Royals, allowing five runs on nine hits and a walk, giving up two more home runs in his seven innings of work.
Billy Butler was 3-4 before being lifted for pinch runner Pedro Ciriaco in the bottom of the eighth.
Tags: Kansas City Royals