DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The record 60th player that the Texas Rangers have used this season did his job superbly.
Then the 61st failed to deliver.
Derek Holland held the Kansas City Royals to one run over seven innings in his season debut, showing no linger effects from the knee injury that had kept him out all year.
Michael Kirkman took over, promptly putting runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth inning of his own season debut. Salvador Perez followed with a scorching liner off the glove of third baseman Adrian Beltre, the single lifting Kansas City to a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.
It was a crucial win for the Royals, who maintained their half-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. But it hardly mattered for the Rangers, who have the fewest wins in the majors.
The biggest reason for their trouble? Injuries. And that’s also the reason they’ve churned through so many players this year. Holland’s appearance broke a tie for the most used in a season with three other clubs, and Kirkman (0-1) extended the new record when he took the mound.
“You look for silver linings,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “That’s all you can do.”
Holland at least provided one.
Looking unhindered by the knee surgery that had kept him out all season, he worked around a double in the first and breezed through the middle innings, his only trouble hardly his own doing.
Alcides Escobar doubled leading off the third, a fly ball that left fielder Ryan Rua should have tracked down at the wall. Two batters later, Nori Aoki lofted a fly ball to shallow left field that Rua whiffed on with an awkward slide, allowing Kansas City to take a 1-0 lead.
“To be honest with you, you couldn’t ask for a better start to go against a contending team,” said Holland, who struck out six without a walk. “That’s a really good club over there. My job was to try to shut them down.”
Jeremy Guthrie did a good job of shutting Texas down, too. The only run he allowed came in the fifth, when Roughned Odor tripled to start the inning and Daniel Robertson drove him in.
Jason Frasor (4-1) left runners on the corners in the eighth against his former team, and Aaron Crow worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his third save of the season.
All-Star closer Greg Holland was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days.
“Phenomenal job,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Crow, who was just recalled from Double-A Northwest Arkansas. “I knew if we got to the ninth with the lead, it’d be Aaron.”
Not only have the Royals used a record 61 players, they also set a record by using 38 pitchers this season. The 2002 Padres had held the previous record of 37 pitchers.
LACK OF RISP-ECT
The Royals were just 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position, and are batting .140 in such situations the last five games. Texas was worse, going 0 for 7 with runners on second or third.
The Royals also recalled INF Christian Colon, OF Terrance Gore and RHP Liam Hendriks from Northwest Arkansas before the game. … The Rangers recalled RHPs Nick Tepesch and Lisalverto Bonilla and INF Luis Sardinas while promoting Kirkman from Triple-A Round Rock. Kirkman took the loss while Sardinas made the final out as a pinch-hitter.
Rangers: RHP Miles Mikolas, who is not making his scheduled start Thursday, will likely miss at least one more start with shoulder fatigue, manager Ron Washington said.
Royals: DH Josh Willingham (sore back) took batting practice and was available to pinch hit.
Rangers: Tepesch (4-8), who grew up in nearby Blue Springs, Missouri, will make his first start at Kauffman Stadium. He is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts against the Royals.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas has been feast or famine during his first season with the Royals. He has a 1.24 ERA in his 10 wins, a 6.25 ERA in his seven losses.