Joakim Soria reclaims closer duties after one-week demotion

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Demoted from closer to middle reliever last week after blowing three saves in four appearances, Joakim Soria threw five hitless innings in three outings and now the Royals are ready to hand him ninth-inning duties back.

Aaron Crow was tabbed as the fill-in closer, but never actually got a save opportunity. Ned Yost told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that Crow will remain in a prominent late-inning role as Soria’s primary setup man, saying Soria “is ready” for his old gig back following “five pretty dominant innings of relief work.”

Yost also noted how well Soria handled the demotion and Soria credited the brief stint in middle relief for helping him “feel better in my command.” And now the Royals will hope the one-week demotion will somehow also help Soria rediscover the miles per hour that were missing on his fastball.

Jose Altuve leads all vote-getters in All-Star balloting

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The latest update to the All-Star voting is in and it reveals that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is the leading vote-getter in all of baseball. Altuve, on his way to his sixth All-Star appearance and fourth starting selection in a row, has has 1,572,101 votes. Altuve leads the Majors with a .342 batting average and 102 hits.

At other positions Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos has overtaken Gary Sánchez of the New York Yankees at catcher, José Abreu of the White Sox leads at first, third base is led by José Ramírez of the Indians, Manny Machado of Orioles leads at short, Boston’s J.D. Martinez paces the DHs and the Sox’ Mookie Betts, the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge round out the starters.

Vote totals: