KANSAS CITY -- Despite dropping the first two games in the series, the Tigers had done something that few have: They succeeded against the Royals' bullpen.
The Royals' relief corps has been at or near the top of the rankings most of the season -- boasting a 3.06 ERA heading into Thursday's series finale. But in the first two contests -- a total of five innings -- the Tigers picked up five hits, three walks and two runs off Kansas City relievers.
The Tigers also threatened to turn games around twice against closer Greg Holland, putting two baserunners on in back-to-back ninth innings. On Tuesday, Delmon Young came within inches of hitting a three-run home run off the closer, and on Wednesday, Holland needed a highlight-reel catch from center fielder Jarrod Dyson to prevent a potential rally.
"He's always had a great arm. He's got that split. He's always been a guy with big-time velocity," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Holland. "They've got some real good arms out there, very good, very aggressive. [Kelvin] Herrera's got a hell of an arm. [Aaron] Crow's got a real good arm. Holland's got a real good arm. They've got some good arms."
Leyland complimented the hard-throwing Royals' relievers, but added that increased exposure to those types of pitchers make hitting pitches in the upper 90s a little easier.
"They're all over the bullpens everywhere now," the skipper said. "That's just the way it is. That's the new world of baseball. Relievers on every team, they've got them all coming in throwing 96, 97, 95, 98.
"I think it's like anything else. You're so used to seeing them come out of every bullpen, not just one. It's night after night, really. It doesn't matter who you're playing. The [Nate] Jones kid in Chicago has got a great arm, [Addison] Reed's got a big arm, [Matt] Thornton's got a big, big arm. You see them every night. ... They've all got big arms now. That's more the rule than the exception anymore."