By Asa Schuster
Sure, Houston’s Chris Carter swatted an MLB-best 12 long-balls over the 31 days of August, however only half of those blasts occurred in five of the 15 wins the Astros’ chalked up.
Over in Kansas City during the same period, something special was unfolding as the Royals rolled through 19 victories with 11 of those games being secured by their trusty closer Greg Holland.
Holland, a previous recipient of Mean Vato of the Month honors (July 2013), was virtually untouchable during August and just as he was staring down the barrel of a disheartening loss at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the last game of the month, he was mysteriously spared.
After Alex Gordon tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth with solo home-run lofted to right-center, Holland was given an opportunity to pave the way for a thrilling comeback win, providing he could lock down the Indians in the top of the tenth.
With two on and two out, Holland surrendered a long two-run double off the right-field wall to Lonnie Chisenhall, and before the Royals could reply in the bottom of the frame the elements in Kansas City conspired and intervened to suspend proceedings.
In the process, Holland’s impressive month remained unscathed (for the time being), showing an MLB-best line of 11 saves in 11 opportunities, while conceding only 10 hits, 5 runs at 1.32 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 13.2 innings and one game in the balance that won’t be resolved until September 22 at Progressive Field.
Holland may be in line for a loss in this game, but the baseball Gods decided that the Royals’ run in August wasn’t ready to come to an end just yet.
The Royals entered August five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, their 19-9 romp over the next 31 days propelled them to as high as three games ahead atop the division, before closing with a lead of just 0.5 games.
Last season, the Royals finally logged a winning season for the first-time since 2003, they’re now 13 games over .500 and if Holland’s crew can continue to defer the taste of defeat they can reach the post-season for the first time since George Brett’s 1985 team.