I wrote yesterday about how Joakim Soria hasn’t pitched like his usual dominant self this season with a 5.18 ERA, similarly ugly strikeout and walk numbers, and decreased velocity.
While his performance so far should definitely have the Royals worried, it’s no surprise that manager Ned Yost made it very clear Soria is in no danger of losing closing duties, telling Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:
There’s nothing different with Soria and there’s not going to be anything different with Soria. He’s not that far off from being right. His problem is he was just so automatic before, when he stumbles a little bit, people go crazy. That’s the nature of being a closer.
That’s certainly true about the nature of closers, but it’s tough to agree that “there’s nothing different with Soria” when, even ignoring the bloated ERA, his strikeouts are down 40 percent, his walks are up 85 percent, and he’s missing 1.5 miles per hour on his fastball.
There’s no need to overreact and change Soria’s role yet, but there’s more reason to worry about Soria than the usual hysteria whenever a great closer blows a save or two.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.