DET@KC: Holland closes out the Tigers for save No. 40

CLEVELAND -- The Royals probably wouldn't be in playoff contention if they didn't have one of the best bullpens in the Majors.

Entering Monday night, Kansas City's relief corps led the American League with a 2.58 ERA, a .223 opponents' average against and a 1.16 WHIP. Also, it was tied for second in the league with 45 saves and 74 holds.

None of that is taken for granted by Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team is battling for a the second AL Wild Card spot. He is fully aware of how important his 11 relievers -- seven righties, four lefties -- are to staying in the hunt.

"It's a good thing to have," Yost said. "You can mix and match. Every club has the ability to do that. I mean, it's good on my side, but they've got it too. It's nice to be able to try to maximize your matchups when you can."

Closer Greg Holland is an integral part of the bullpen's strength. The All-Star closer got his 40th save of the year in Sunday's 5-2 win at Detroit, becoming the fourth reliever in Royals history to reach that mark.

Of AL relievers with at least 30 appearances, Holland's 1.40 ERA ranks fourth. He has pitched in 59 games.

"He's the total package, man. He's the real deal when it comes to closing," Yost said. "Last year, when he took over the closer's job, you just knew he was ready, with his stuff. His stuff is so good."

Dyson wants to be Royals' main running man

DET@KC: Dyson swipes 30th base of the 2013 season

CLEVELAND -- Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson has been burning up the basepaths all season long, and he has no intention of putting the brakes on with the regular season winding down.

Dyson recorded his 30th steal of the season in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Tigers. Last year, Dyson finished with exactly 30 steals across 102 games. This year, he reached that figure in just 72 games.

"It's big, but I'm shooting for higher than 30," Dyson said. "Thirty is just like a decent job for me on the bases. It's pretty good, because I don't have that many ABs, to be sitting at 30 right now. I'm just going to continue to take off and run."

Dyson, 29, hopes to get at least 40 steals. He is the first Royals runner to swipe 30 bags in consecutive years since Carlos Beltran (2001-03).

On Monday night, Dyson batted eighth and played center field in the series opener against the Indians. In 73 games this season, he owns a slash line of .263/.321/.374 with eight doubles, three triples and two homers. He also has 30 runs scored and 16 RBIs. He's been thrown out trying to steal just five times.

Royals skipper Ned Yost appreciates the speed of Dyson, who has started in center field in 15 of the last 16 games.

"It's been important for us ever since he's gotten here, because he's been a weapon for us in any role that we have him in," Yost said. "Now, he's playing every day. He's been a guy that always makes the opposing defense nervous, makes the opposing pitcher nervous with his speed."

Before, Yost would keep Dyson on the bench until the late innings, when he'd come into the game as a pinch-runner. But as Dyson's abilities have continued to improve, Yost has played him more.

"He's continuing to grow," Yost said. "For a speed guy, you have to learn how to keep the ball on the ground. You've got to learn how to take pitches. You've got to learn how to take walks. You can't be afraid of hitting with two strikes. You get into a 2-0 count, you're taking a strike. If it's 3-0, you're taking a strike and then you're taking another strike.

"It's hard to learn that as a speed-type player, but he's really starting to develop into that type of player, a guy that realizes that he has something that nobody else has."

Dyson leads the Royals in stolen bases, and the club leads the Majors with 133. Kansas City has been successful on 83.1 percent of steal attempts, which trails only Boston's 85.4 percent.

Yost credited the way his team runs the bases as one of the reasons for its success. At 75-68, the Royals entered Monday night just 3 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card spot. The big picture is what's most important to Dyson.

"I couldn't care less about the bags," Dyson said. "I want to be in the playoffs."

Royals offering $15 ticket deal for Tribe series

CLEVELAND -- The Royals and Indians on Monday night began a crucial three-game series at Progressive Field. A week later, they'll do the same thing at Kauffman Stadium.

Postseason ramifications aside, the Royals announced a ticket deal on Monday that makes next week's series in Kansas City even more enticing for fans.

Partnering with flagship station KCSP 610 Sports, the Royals made Field Plaza tickets on Sept. 16-18 available for $15, providing fans with a savings of more than 50 percent.

For those interested in the "610 September Special," tickets can be purchased online at Royals.com/610, by phone at 1-800-6ROYALS, at the Kauffman Stadium box office and at 26 metro-area Hy-Vee stores.

Quote to note

"We've been up and down, man, a lot. Hopefully we don't go back down. We're pushing right now. Everybody is pumped up. We're taking it one game at a time and whoever our opponent is, we're going out there and trying to take care of business."
-- Dyson, on the team's streaky nature.

Crown points

David Lough wasn't in the lineup for the second day in a row as the Royals opened Monday night's series at Progressive Field. Yost said the outfielder is not feeling any lingering effects from Saturday, when he was injured sliding into Detroit catcher Brayan Pena in the third inning.

Yost said, depending on matchups, that Lough will rotate between Lorenzo Cain (who is back after suffering a strained oblique), Justin Maxwell and Jarrod Dyson.

• The Royals kicked off September with six wins and two losses, making for the organization's best start to a September since the World Series championship year of 1985, when the Royals started September 7-1 en route to an 18-12 finish in the month. Kansas City has now posted winning records in four of the first five months in a non-strike season for the first time since 1989.

• Sunday's 5-2 win over Detroit gave the Royals a 9-7 season record against the AL Central leaders. By comparison, Cleveland went 4-15 against the Tigers this season.