Twice earlier this season, the Royals slid below .500, only to fight back and flirt with contention. That may yet happen again, but it's looking more and more unlikely on this gloomy Wednesday morning. Losers of three straight, the Royals are now 22-25, 8.5 games behind Cleveland and 2.5 games behind the Tigers.
The specific issue of the moment is the similarly irregular performance of Joakim Soria. This very blog has sounded the alarm on Soria before, once in April and once in May. After allowing three runs in the 9th inning of a 3-2 game on Tuesday night, the fears are once again back.
Still, Soria's blown save isn't a clear cut meltdown. With a slightly more favorable call on his 0-2 pitch to J.J. Hardy or with better defense from Wilson Betemit we're likely talking about a Royal victory and Soria's recent rebound. Instead, there have been all manner of theories floated out: he's injured, he's washed up, he's lost his edge, he's experimenting with a new pitch and killing the team.
I don't know what the answer is, but I will say this: Closer's are over-rated on their way in and over-hated on their way out.
How confident are you?