Holland perfect in new role as Royals closer

Holland perfect in new role as Royals closer

KANSAS CITY -- Greg Holland said his new role would be similar to his last one, but when he took the mound for the first time as the Royals' closer on Wednesday, he admittedly felt different.

The right-hander said he was a little extra "amped up" before going out for the ninth inning, but soon calmed down and was able to set three Indians hitters down in order to pick up his first save of the season.

But why was Holland -- who had been steadfast in saying that the approach in the ninth is the same as in other innings -- amped up?

"I don't know. I think having to answer all these questions the last few days maybe," said Holland, who had five career saves entering Thursday's series finale.

Holland was named the team's closer on Tuesday after Jonathan Broxton was traded to Cincinnati. Holland's first save chance came with the Royals leading the Indians, 5-2. Holland pitched a perfect ninth to seal Kansas City's second win in the three-game series, and credited manager Ned Yost for preparing him and his teammates well for the situation.

"It's really no different. I've pitched in some tough situations. Ned's done a good job of that the last two years with all of us down in the bullpen: getting us in those tough situations so if something like this happens where [Joakim] Soria gets hurt, Broxton gets traded, somebody's going to step in," Holland said. "I'm confident that any of us can do it because we've been in those situations in the seventh and eighth inning with runners on in close games. You've just got to take it like it's another inning."

Manager Ned Yost said that, while the bullpen had several good options, Holland was the obvious choice to replace Broxton.

"If there's any team that could do a closer by committee, I think we could do it. We can match up really well down there in the ninth inning," Yost said. "But Holland deserves the shot to be closer. He's been effective against both left- and right-handers, he's been banging strikes, he's got great stuff and he's got good mound presence, good composure."

Holland's performance was a stark contrast from Broxton's typical outings, which usually featured multiple baserunners and a whole lot of drama. But Broxton typically managed to escape with the save, a trait that Holland admired.

"I think I'm about 99 short of him," Holland said, referencing Broxton's 107 career saves. "If you're a closer, you're going to be in those situations where you don't have your best stuff sometimes, or you give up a weak groundball hit and now the tying run's on first base. But he did a great job for us, fourth in the league in saves. I hope I can get to that point in my career."

In addition to his first save since Sept. 25, 2011, Holland also was named the Royals' Pitcher of the Month for July on Wednesday.