With closer Wade Davis unavailable after pitching three times in four days, Royals manager Ned Yost turned to reliever Joakim Soria on Thursday to protect a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning.
Soria allowed two runs — thanks in large part to two defensive miscues by right fielder Paulo Orlando — and the Cleveland Indians walked off with a 5-4 victory.
So why did Yost turn to Soria in the ninth instead of setup man Kelvin Herrera? He began his explanation by citing Soria’s experience as a closer before saying he also wanted Herrera to work a higher-leverage situation in the eighth.
“Experience — 200-something saves,” Yost said of Soria. “You look at it: The way it worked out, the meat of that order (four-five-six hitters), we wanted Kelvin facing that in the eighth. But because of the error, it ended up getting all the way to the bottom of the order.”
The error in question was not officially scored an error, but Yost was referring to a poor throw from second baseman Omar Infante on a double-play attempt that would have ended the inning. The throw kept the inning alive, and Herrera was charged with allowing an earned run, raising his ERA from 1.04 to 1.33.
Yost said he was comfortable with Herrera closing out games. But after Soria posted a 1.35 ERA in May, Yost said his staff made a collective decision to go with experience.
Soria “had a great May,” Yost said. “We sit down in these situations when we know Wade has thrown four out of five days and we probably don’t have him. As a group, we talk: ‘OK, what do you guys think?’ We all thought that the experience pays. He’s had a great May. Let’s close with him. … It wasn’t his fault.”