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Yost trying to keep Holland fresh down stretch

Closer works for second straight game, struggles to seal win over Twins

Yost trying to keep Holland fresh down stretch play video for Yost trying to keep Holland fresh down stretch

MINNEAPOLIS -- Closer Greg Holland had rough going in finishing out Friday night's 6-5 victory over the Twins and Royals manager Ned Yost is concerned.

"I'm wearing Greg out. I can't find any way to give him a break," Yost said. "So it's more my fault than it is his, but he's so good that you just have to do it."

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Holland, working for the second straight day, gave up a walk, a double and two runs before recording his 37th save at Target Field. Fortunately, he had a three-run lead to play with.

That was the 50th game in which Holland has pitched this season. He's having a good year, leading the American League in saves along with a 2.05 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.

But Yost knows that he has to keep Holland as fresh as possible as the Royals vie for their first postseason berth since 1985. And, if they make that, he doesn't want to go into the playoffs with a worn-out closer.

"I don't know if he's going to be available tomorrow, I don't think so," Yost said after Friday night's game. "He's pitched back-to-back days. We just pick our spots to give him some slack when we can and the bottom line is he gets the job done. And that's all that matters."

On Thursday in Kansas City, Yost tried to give Holland a break by using Jason Frasor in the ninth, but he gave up two hits in a 7-3 game. So Holland had to come in and close out Oakland, issuing a one walk between two outs. Luckily, he needed only seven pitches to do it.

Holland threw 22 pitches on Friday night.

"His arm's a little bit slow, he's fighting command, he's a little bit tired," Yost said.

So the manager wants to find his closer a break and soon.

"When you win close games, this is the way it's going to be. But you've got to find a way to cut him slack," Yost said.

Yost also has used setup man Wade Davis in two straight games, so he might need a break as well.

"These guys are built for the long haul, but one day helps. Two days is ideal," he said.

"My goal is for Greg Holland to win the saves title at the end of year. But it's more important for him to be strong down the stretch for us than for him to win the saves title, so you've got to pick and choose your spots."

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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