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Yost feels Holland is back on right track

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KANSAS CITY -- Struggling Royals closer Greg Holland might be onto something.

"He figured something out last night, I think," manager Ned Yost said on Wednesday.

Yost referred to Holland's escape from a self-inflicted, bases-loaded situation that included two walks. Holland struck out the Twins' Joe Mauer to end the game in a 7-4 Royals victory -- logging his second save.

Yost figured that Holland's approach, in two rough outings at Philadelphia and early on Tuesday night, was wrong.

"It happens -- you lose your closer's mentality," Yost said. "You start looking at the game situation -- OK, I've got a two-run lead or a three-run lead and I need to throw strikes here, instead of going with the mindset that, hey, it's a one-run game no matter what the score is and coming in on the attack, boom-boom-boom with all your pitches."

In short, Holland was just trying to place his fastballs for strikes instead of aggressively using his full assortment of pitches. Holland tended to agree and said he readjusted his approach against Mauer.

"My mindset was to get ahead so I can use all my pitches, which I haven't done the last few outings," Holland said. "I was so [focused] on getting ahead with my fastball that I haven't pitched like I pitched in years past, when I would throw any pitch in any count."

Holland stranded the three runners in rain and poor footing.

"What he did was pretty amazing, to get through that inning as hard as it was raining and as muddy as it was," Yost said. "It's like trying to pitch in snowshoes."

After Holland slogged through the mud and threw 27 pitches in the perilous ninth inning, Yost decided that if a save opportunity arose in Wednesday night's series finale, he'd opt for Kelvin Herrera. That would give Holland a chance to rest up for the Toronto series.

That came as a surprise to Herrera.

"I didn't know that," he said.

Herrera worked a scoreless ninth, pitching around a Mauer double with three strikeouts, getting the save in a 3-0 victory. But Yost emphasized that Holland's status had not changed.

"Greg Holland's our closer, so there's no question there," Yost said. "When he's right, he's as dominant a closer as there is in the American League."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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