Royals pitcher Ervin Santana announced to the world early Friday through Twitter that, “I’m ready for a great second half.”

This qualifies, at least, as great start.

Santana worked 71/3 innings Friday before Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland closed out a 1-0 victory over Detroit in what, for the Royals anyway, was the start to a key three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

“We lost five in a row going into the break,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “Especially after winning the first two in New York, we thought we were going to have a pretty good road trip.

“The (three-game sweep by) Cleveland hurt but, coming out of the All-Star break, you forget about it. And we won a big game tonight.”

Butler provided the game’s only run — on an RBI single in the first inning after Alex Gordon swiped second following a leadoff single off the glove of second baseman Ramon Santiago.

Santana, 6-6, and the bullpen made the lone run stand up in front of a near-sellout crowd of 35,000. Holland retired the side in order in the ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances as the big crowd chanted, “Let’s go, Holland!”

The night, however, belonged to Santana, who waged a pitchers’ duel with Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

“It was tough,” Santana said. “That’s a tremendous lineup. Everyone is aggressive over there, but everything (he threw) was pretty good. Especially location. Everything was down, and I elevated when I wanted to.”

Santana exited after a one-out walk in the eighth to Jhonny Peralta after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. It was Santana’s first walk of the game and the fourth ball was his 106th pitch.

“I’m not letting him lose that game,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’re in the eighth inning. I’ve got a bullpen that’s got four days of rest. I’m going to the bullpen.”

The big crowd rose to its feet as Santana walked to the dugout, and he responded with a quick wave of his cap. He later called it “a very good moment.”

In came Herrera, who had just returned from a 31/2-week stay in the minors. Had he recaptured his mojo? This represented a significant first test, and he aced it. Herrera induced a possible double-play grounder to second from Andy Dirks, but Dirks extended the inning by beating the relay. But Herrera then struck out Alex Avila.

That got the game to Holland, who closed out Santana’s gem by recording his 16th straight successful save. The only other 1-0 game in Santana’s nine-year career was Aug. 1, 2008, for the Angels at New York.