08/14/10 6:55 PM ET
Offseason conditioning paying off for Soria
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Facing the top of the Yankees' order in the first hour of Saturday morning, Soria was greeted by Derek Jeter's single. He got Curtis Granderson to fly out, and after catcher Jason Kendall dropped a foul popup, Soria struck out Mark Teixeira. And when Robinson Cano grounded out, the Royals had a 4-3 victory and Soria broke Jeff Montgomery's 1993 mark of 24 consecutive saves.
"The Yankees are always tough," Soria said. "All the teams in the Major Leagues are tough, and these guys have a really good lineup and you have to fight with those guys."
Soria also notched his 32nd save to tie Tampa Bay's Rafael Soriano for the American League lead. Unlike last year when Soria missed some time with a shoulder ailment, he's been fine this year.
"I think this offseason was good, staying here and working with [strength and conditioning coordinator] Ty [Hill] on my issues in my arm and I feel pretty good now," Soria said. "He helped me fix my problems in my arm and everything and I feel real good now."
Since becoming the Royals' full-time closer on July 31, 2007, Soria has converted 111 of 120 save opportunities for a 92.5 success rate -- second in that period only to the Yankees' Mariano Rivera (94.5 percent).
Soria is known for tossing up an occasional slow curveball at about 69-72 mph, but he says he won't go as extreme as Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla, who has a curve that registers about 50-53 mph.
"It like floats, it's real slow," Soria said. "It's really rare."
Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has named the pitch the "soap bubble" because it floats out like a bubble from a kid's wire blower.
"The batters freak out because he's been throwing hard, hard and hard and you go with his slow one. They get out of balance and timing and everything," Soria said.
Soria won't go that slow, though.
"No, I just try to get outs," he said.
So far, so good as a 2.09 ERA and a .200 opponents' average in his 220 games as a Royal will attest.
Tejeda hopes to return in September
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Robinson Tejeda, out with a right biceps tendon strain, was eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday, but that's not going to happen.
Tejeda, who hasn't pitched since July 29, said he feels no pain. But he's just been throwing from flat ground, not from the mound.
"Maybe next week I can get in the bullpen and probably be back in September," he said.
The Royals lost their top two setup pitchers in late July when Tejeda was injured and Kyle Farnsworth was traded to the Braves. Tejeda has a 3-3 record and a 3.42 ERA in 41 games.
Yost proud squad overcame fielding gaffes
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals escaped some fielding blunders in their late, late game on Friday night and Saturday morning to win, 4-3.
The Yankees got an eighth-inning chance when third baseman Wilson Betemit booted Jorge Posada's grounder and first baseman Billy Butler misplayed a subsequent rundown, allowing pinch-runner Ramiro Pena to reach second base. Yet reliever Blake Wood stranded Pena there with three straight outs.
In the ninth, catcher Jason Kendall muffed a pop foul to give Mark Teixeira an extra chance, but Joakim Soria pitched out of it.
"You can't give four outs, let alone five outs and expect to survive," manager Ned Yost said. "We got through it last night, but again, there are things you work through. Errors are part of the game. You're going to make them, they're going to make them. It's how you cover them that's important, and the relievers did a great job of covering them last night. And it's tough when you give the Yankees five outs in an inning, the odds of getting through that without scoring a run is way, way up there."
But, in this case, Wood and Soria covered the damage.
Yost relieved rain not in Saturday's forecast
KANSAS CITY -- No wonder Royals manager Ned Yost was wondering about the weather forecast before Saturday night's game against the Yankees. There was no rain predicted.
Good thing, because the Yankees and the Royals have endured a total of six hours 38 minutes of rain delays this season.
On July 23 at Yankee Stadium, there were two delays that lasted a total of one hour and 25 minutes, and on July 25, there was a 2:32 stoppage. On Friday night, the teams waited a total of 2:41 -- first for 31 minutes and later for 2:10. The fifth inning did not resume until 11:31 p.m. CT and finished at 12:46 a.m.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.