As if blowing two saves in the past week had not done enough to sully his reputation and dash the hopes of a hopeless fanbase, Joakim Soria elected to leave a pitch up and in the middle of the plate to Torii Hunter with a runner on while protecting a one-run lead. Predictably at this point, Hunter ripped the ball into the stands in left.
The damage wasn't done. Of course.
Alberto Callaspo reached on a one-out single and went first to third on a Russell Branyan single to shallow left that saw Wilson Betemit leave his post at third chasing down a ball that either Alcides Escobar or Alex Gordon had a much more realistic shot of having a play at. Then Mark Trumbo hit a ball sharply at the official defensive liability Wilson Betemit that should have been a double play but was instead booted, plating Callaspo and leaving Mr. Soria to need to strike out Hank Conger and Peter Bourjos.
Leaving aside the fact that despite having managed in the Senior Circuit Ned Yost seems to be entirely unfamiliar with the concept of defensive substitutions in the ninth inning of close games which is a discussion for a different day, Soria's season-long ineptitude in a spot at the front and center of our collective consciousness has become more and more concerning each day.
Given that Soria's velocity is up, an injury does not seem apparent. The level-headed Royals fan can point toward the futility in looking too closely at the small statistical sample size that Soria has accrued thus far, but that doesn't make these inexplicable results any less troubling.
On a day where the Royals hammered out eight runs on 11 hits and five walks, fueled by a four-RBI day from Eric Jesus Hosmer and two hit days from Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Wilson Betemit, and Chris Getz, it is unfortunate that our memories will take us back to the image of Soria leaving that ball up to Torii Hunter. Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer's first inning home runs may as well have been for naught.
Until the next soul-crushing defeat, we shall all be left to wonder what hath God wrought. At least until Hosmer can ask his Father.
Update: Apparently Soria has lost the closing gig. The move may be temporary, but Crow to close for the time being. Soria is said to have asked Yost to remove him from the role until he rights the ship.