Put it in the books. The Royals closed their best season in 24 years Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. All-Star catcher Salvy Perez drew a first career start at first base — and OK that’s going to take some work — but one reason the Royals put him there is to seek additional ways to keep his bat in the lineup. That bat on Sunday delivered three hits including a two-run homer that opened the scoring. Putting Perez at first base opened a spot at catcher for Brett Hayes who also hit a two-run homer. “I told you before we’re going to play hard through the last day of the season” Perez said. “We’re going play hard for 27 outs.” It took all 27 outs because the White Sox made things interesting at the end before Greg Holland dropped the hammer one final time in his record-breaking season. We’ll get to that. The homers by Perez and Hayes supported a strong outing by veteran lefty Bruce Chen a pending free agent who worked into the seventh inning before Kelvin Herrera Luke Hochevar and Holland closed out the season. “Hopefully I can come back” Chen said. “I know the fans had a blast this year. They supported us. They were great and they want to win. I feel like the city is ready to win and I feel this team is step it up.” Holland wobbled through the ninth inning for his 47th save which extended his club record. The White Sox loaded the bases with one out before Holland struck out Gordon Beckham and Marcus Semien. Those two strikeouts enabled Holland to tie the franchise record of 103 strikeouts by a reliever in a season which Jim York set in 1971. “It’s just one of those things” said Holland who finished with a 1.21 ERA in his 68 appearances. “You can’t always go in there and get three quick outs. I would have taken three line drives there … “Well I probably got three line drives but they weren’t at people.” It worked out. It usually does with Holland who had just one blown save in his last 41 opportunities. Both homers followed walks by Chicago starter Jose Quintana who fell to 9-7. Perez went deep in the fourth while Hayes hit his first big-league homer in more than two years in the seventh. That was enough for the Royals to end the season at 86-76 — a 14-victory improvement over last season and their best record since finishing 92-70 in 1989.
Homers by Perez, Hayes help Royals close season with 4-1 victory over White Sox
Kansas City Star | Sep 29