Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 5/30/13
Ben Frederickson is an award-winning writer for FOX Sports Midwest. His work has appeared in the Columbia Missourian, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Times, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Casper Star-Tribune. ST. LOUIS Greg Holland sat with a folded newspaper in his hand, filling out the day's sudoku with a ballpoint pen. He set both down on a clubhouse table as he explained the more complicated mind game he's been playing lately. "It's a fine line," Holland said Wednesday afternoon. "You can go for a week, and all of a sudden, you're like, 'Man, I need a day off.' But I would rather be out there throwing than not throwing, because I know if I'm throwing, then we are in some ballgames." So goes the life of a Major League closer. You either pitch too often, or not enough. But when you're the closer on a team that's lost eight games in a row, and you've only had two save opportunities this month, and that month is now on its 29th day, it's the latter drastically. "It's the nature of the beast," Holland said. "You kind of get used to it. You know what your body needs to do to stay sharp in those times when you're not throwing a lot." Things haven't always been this way. The first week of May saw Holland notch his seventh save of the season in a 9-8 win against the Tampa Bay Rays, claim his first win of the year in a 6-5 extra-innings contest against the Chicago White Sox and blow a save in a 2-1 extra-innings loss to that same Chicago team. In less than seven days, Holland had stepped onto the mound with a one-run lead three times. Those are the situations closers are made for. Those are the situations Holland and his Royals have not had much of since. Kansas City had lost 17 of its last 21 games entering Wednesday night's game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Holland had appeared in just four of those games. None were a save opportunity. "It's tough," Royals manager Ned Yost said in a dugout Wednesday afternoon "And it gets tougher on the road. He's being going four days, then he'll pitch. Then five days, then he'll pitch." In order to stay active, Holland had thrown the ninth inning of the following four games: a 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees on May 12; a 9-5 win against the Los Angeles Angels on May 15; A 7-3 win against the Houston Astros on May 21; and a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 25. It was work, yes. But not the kind of work closers specialize in. As a result, Holland has logged extra practice sessions on the mound and done an increased amount of flat-land work as well. When he does come into games without a chance of it turning into a save, he does the same thing any closer in the situation does trick your brain into believing your arm is throwing for a save. "You have to go out there and try to make your pitches, try to be aggressive like a save situation," Cardinals closer Edward Mujica said. "When you go out there in a no-save situation, it might be that your body doesn't have much energy. But you have to be the same in every situation." Easier said than done. "Those guys, they're a special breed that really excel in that situation," Yost said. "There's not much you can do to replicate save situations. We've just got to have a couple leads, and let him get back into regular work." It looked like it was going to happen Wednesday. But then Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran smashed an Aaron Crow pitch 420 feet for a solo home run over the right field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Royals 3-1 lead was whittled to one. Then David Freese singled to score Allen Craig, and Daniel Descalso singled to score Yadier Molina and Freese. The Cardinals won 5-3, handing the Royals their eighth loss in a row. Another much-needed save opportunity for Holland had gone up in smoke, like the post-victory fireworks that lit up the St. Louis sky. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker