I say “apparent” because there has no been no confirmation from the Royals on the subject. I hesitate to say that Soria is injured, because there is no evidence of an actual injury.
Nonetheless, it appears quite certain that the Mexicutioner is suffering from an ailment that prevents him from pitching. That is because the alternative explanation is that Trey Hillman has the IQ of a barnyard animal, and I think we can all agree that barnyard animals possess neither the intellect nor the communication skills necessary to obtain a job as major league manager in the first place.
See, after pitching (and picking up saves) in four of the Royals’ first seven games, Soria had not pitched in the last four – his last outing came on April 13th. He’s fully rested, and more, the Royals have an off-day tomorrow. If ever there was a game where Soria ought to be pitching, it was this one. Even if the game was a blowout, he ought to come in. Hillman said so himself. “We’ll get Jack some work somehow,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said before Sunday's game.
So clearly, Soria is suffering from an inability to pitch. If he were able to pitch, I’m certain we would have seen him to start the eighth inning this afternoon, this being the perfect time to give Soria a two-inning save opportunity with the Royals leading by a pair of runs.
Or, after Ron Mahay gave up a double to Andruw Jones that bounced out of David DeJesus’s glove, and then after Mike Jacobs performed that weird interpretive dance he loves to do, “Waltz With Baseball”, that allowed Hank Blalock to reach base safely, then Soria would have come in. Certainly, Hillman would not have caused the bottom to fall out of my stomach when the bullpen door opened to reveal Jamey Wright to pitch with none out and the tying run at first base. Not unless Soria was suffering from AITP.
And when Wright got a slow dribbler for the first out, and a flyout from David Murphy for the second, and then Chris Davis pinch-hit for Taylor Teagarden with two outs and the tying runner in scoring position – I mean, there’s no way Hillman would have left Soria in the bullpen at that moment if he hadn’t been suffering from AITP. The fact that Soria was briefly shown lightly warming up in the bullpen alongside Kyle Farnsworth at the time was no doubt a clever ruse by Hillman, whose intellect clearly works on a plane that us mere baseball fans can not understand.
And after Wright got out of the inning (but not before surrendering the game-tying single to Davis), and the Royals went quietly in the top of the ninth inning, and the Royals had to choose between Farnsworth and Soria to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game, surely there’s no way a sentient and bipedal primate would look at those two options and choose Captain Goodnight* – not unless Soria was suffering from AITP. (And evidently, Robinson Tejeda may have a mild case of AITP as well – our sources are looking into it.)
*: There was a computer game that I remember playing in the late 1980s, when I was about 13 years old, called “Captain Goodnight”. All I remember about the game was that you were a hero that had 24 hours to save the world and get the girl, or something like that. I also remember that the game was very, very difficult to complete in time, and after weeks of trying to finish it, I finally had a game in which I hit every button in perfect synchronicity, got to the finish line with hours to spare – and then the game crashed and I was never able to play it again. Anyway, I see those aviator goggles that Farnsworth wears, and the fact that when he comes into the game you can turn off your TV and go to bed, and I think I’m going to call him Captain Goodnight from now on. (And yes, I know some of you think I’m too obsessed with nicknames. For your sake – for all our sakes – I hope I don’t have to use it very often.)
I know today’s game was a crushing loss. I know that it has ruined my day. I know it has ruined my appetite to write the Zack Greinke column that I want to write and you want to read. I know that the final two innings completely wasted a start from Kyle Davies that in its own way was every bit as impressive as the ones his big brothers made on Friday and Saturday. (After walking four batters and throwing 22 balls in 37 pitches in the first inning, Davies responded by allowing just two hits and a walk over the next five. Davies now has 21 strikeouts in 18.2 innings – and he’s our #3 starter.) I know it kept the Royals from taking over sole possession of first place. I know that it’s the second game the Royals have lost this year that they were leading after seven innings.
But please, don’t blame Hillman for this. Rest assured that there’s no way someone could spend a quarter-century playing, coaching, and managing in professional baseball, and ascend to the highest rank of his profession before he turned 45, and make the decisions that Hillman appeared to make today. It’s simply not possible that Hillman would not use Soria to protect a tight lead, even as the inning was falling apart, just because it was the eighth inning instead of the ninth. It’s not possible that instead of Soria in the ninth, he would call upon KYLE FREAKING FARNSWORTH, who now has more losses (3) than the rest of the team combined (2) in exactly 3.1 innings of work, just because it was a tie game instead of a save situation. Trey Hillman is not that stupid. No one is that stupid.
Maybe we’ll get some confirmation from the Royals on this soon. Or maybe Soria’s AITP will clear up by Tuesday, he’ll be back on the mound, and the Royals will pretend it never existed. I don’t know much about AITP – it was never listed in any of the books I read in medical school – but I suspect that it’s a very brief affliction, sort of like the 24-hour flu. After all, it didn’t exist last night, when Soria was one batter away from coming in to close out Greinke’s masterpiece. And rumor has it that Soria had AITP on Opening Day, but it cleared up in time for him to close out the game the following day.
But he clearly had AITP today. I’m sure that it’s merely a coincidence that yesterday’s game constituted a Ninth Inning Save Situation – I capitalize those words out of respect for such an august institution – and today’s game never did.
It’s tough to lose a game because Soria came down with AITP at an inopportune time. But in a way it’s a relief to know that the reason the Royals lost yet another game that they had in the bag was simply because of AITP. I mean, if Soria doesn’t have AITP, that means the Royals lost today’s game because their manager is a complete and utter moron. AITP is curable, but I’m afraid there may be no cure for imbecilic bullpen management.
Fortunately we don’t have to worry about that. Hillman’s a brilliant manager – Dayton Moore said so himself. Let’s just hope that Hillman…I mean Soria…finds a cure for his AITP soon. The Royals can’t afford to lose any more games this season because of it. I’m not sure they could afford to lose the games they already have.