Baltimore Joakim Soria is desperately trying to regain the form he displayed last season, when the right-hander registered 43 saves in 46 tries and made the All-Star team.
Until he improves, the Kansas City Royals must realize that no lead is safe.
Working with a one-run cushion in the ninth inning, Soria first allowed the Baltimore Orioles to pull even, then gave up a two-run walkoff homer to Adam Jones in a 5-3 loss Tuesday night.
It was the third blown save for Soria — matching his total from all last season.
“He’s working every day, refining his mechanics. He’s just struggling right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s some command. I don’t know if it’s mechanics, even though he’s working on his mechanics every day early.
“It’s just location more than anything else. He’s normally a guy whose location is pinpoint, but it’s been off a little bit. He’ll get it going again.”
Baltimore trailed, 3-2, entering the ninth. After Soria (3-1) retired the first batter, J.J. Hardy doubled off the glove of third baseman Wilson Betemit. Pinch-hitter Felix Pie then grounded a double inside third base to tie it.
Soria rebounded to strike out Robert Andino before Jones homered on an 0-2 pitch.
“That was up and he hit it good,” Soria said of his ill-fated fastball.
Soria was at a loss to explain his inconsistency.
“Sometimes you have a bad season and you try to figure out what is going on,” he said. “I just go over there, I feel good. I am working hard. It’s just baseball. Baseball is giving me nothing right now.”
Alfredo Simon (1-0) worked a perfect ninth in his season debut. He missed the start of the year after being charged with involuntary manslaughter in his native Dominican Republic; no trial date has been set.
It was the eighth loss in 10 games for Kansas City.