Ninth-place hitters doing damage for Royals
KC contingent entered Thursday leading Majors in average, hits
BALTIMORE -- Oh, those No. 9 hitters in the lineup -- not very important, are they. Bite your tongue. They are for the Royals.
Entering Thursday's series opener with the Orioles, the Royals' ninth-place hitters -- and there have been 12 of them plus pitchers in Interleague games -- were leading the Majors (and, of course, the American League where it really matters) with a .300 average and 119 hits. They ranked second in RBIs with 53, one behind the Rangers.
Second baseman Chris Getz batted ninth for the 13th time on Thursday.
"When it comes to the nine-spot, it's still a slot in the lineup, so it's a place where you at least want some sort of production, and we've been fortunate enough to have a lot of success in that position," Getz said. "A lot of it has something to do with Esky [Alcides Escobar] being there a long time. We might have been sandbagging a little bit with him down there."
Escobar, with 36 starts at No. 9, is hitting .309 (38-for-123) there. Getz has been pretty good himself at .295 (13-for-44).
"As far as a nine-hole hitter, he's another leadoff guy," said Jarrod Dyson, who's made 18 starts in that spot. "That's somebody that the manager looks for to turn that lineup over. If the nine-hole gets on, it turns the lineup back over to the top, and most nine-hole guys are going to be fast."
For most of the season, the Royals' ninth batters have been followed by leadoff man Alex Gordon, who not only is adept at getting on base, but has good power as well.
"And with me being on first," Dyson continued, "that gives Gordo good pitches to hit. So all I've got to do is get on base however I can. Do whatever it takes to get on base so the other guy can get good pitches to hit and drive me in."
Dyson has been dynamic as a No. 9 hitter with a .349 (22-for-63) average and 10 stolen bases. Dyson noted that both he and Getz have good speed and could function in the leadoff role for many other teams.
"People have always said it's a second leadoff guy," Getz said. "Typically a nine-hole hitter is someone who could easily be a leadoff guy with his tool set and speed being one of them."
Holland taking same approach as closer
BALTIMORE -- Greg Holland, going into the Baltimore series, looked back on his first nine days as the Royals' closer and said he's not approaching the assignment any differently.
"I'm just taking it as another inning," Holland said. "That's been my mentality, just go out there and approach the situation like you would in the seventh or eighth inning. It just happens to be the last three outs -- and the only way to really get into any extra trouble in the ninth inning is to think about it as the ninth inning."
When he closed out Jeremy Guthrie's victory on Wednesday night at Chicago, Holland had three saves in three chances since Jonathan Broxton's departure on July 31. Holland also was charged with the first run in his five appearances, giving him a 1.50 ERA.
That also gave the Royals a 5-0 record in the five games in which Holland had pitched since Broxton left.
"I feel like the more opportunities I get, the more chances we get at winning games. That's the big part of it. We played really well three days in Chicago and I got two chances. So hopefully we get a couple more here in Baltimore," Holland said.
Usually when a closer doesn't get into a game, it's because the Royals are behind or because they're winning a blowout.
"Hopefully you're blowing them out," Holland said.
Batting practice for the Royals was canceled on Thursday night when rain peppered the Camden Yards field while the Orioles were hitting. The grounds crew immediately covered the infield although the rain was short-lived.
The Royals began the Baltimore series with 124 double plays, second in the Majors behind Minnesota's 134. Mike Moustakas was leading third basemen with 33 -- 10 ahead of Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and one shy of Mark Teahen's club record of 34 in 2006.
Back-to-back three-hit games for Triple-A Omaha lifted outfielder Wil Myers' average to .293 after he'd been through a 2-for-23 slump. He has 20 homers and 63 RBIs for the Storm Chasers.
Shortstop Christian Colon, promoted from Double-A, made his Omaha debut and went 1-for-4 in a 4-2 loss to Colorado Springs on Wednesday.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.