MIAMI | Nobody was more nonplused than Royals closer Joakim Soria when his scoreless innings streak ended Friday night in a 7-6 victory over the Florida Marlins. Soria yielded a two-run homer to Jeremy Hermida before closing out the game for his 11th save.
“It was going to happen sooner or later,” Soria said. “I’m not perfect. That’s baseball. All that matters is we got the win, and I got the save.”
Soria opened the season with 16 1/3 scoreless innings — just two-thirds of an inning shy of the club record by Hipolito Pichardo in 1997.
“It was way too soon to look at that stuff,” Soria said, echoing a view he often expressed while building the streak. “I don’t think about that when I got out there. I just try to help my team.”
Soria actually retired the first hitter Friday but, officially, the streak still ends at 16 1/3 innings. Major League rules require a pitcher complete the inning without yielding a run in order to extend a scoreless streak.
The two runs boosted Soria’s ERA to 1.04. Hermida’s homer was just the second extra-base hit against him and also broke a zero-for-23 streak by left-handed hitters.
Soria, who turns 24 on Sunday, remains just one of six closers with at least seven save opportunities yet to blow one. His 11-for-11 success also matches the club record to start a season. Al Hrabosky opened 1978 with 11 in a row before blowing opportunity No. 12.
So there’s still a streak to monitor.
“No matter how much I say,” manager Trey Hillman said, “I’m still going to understate (his importance). He’s very consistent. He’s very calm.
“For the comfort level of our club, I think it helps us overall to have a guy who takes the mound in that situation be a calm guy rather than a guy who has a lot of moving parts and has “Wild Thing” playing on the speakers.”
David DeJesus made his second start of the season in right field when he returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three games. His previous start, on May 10, was his first duty in right field since 2004.
No big deal, apparently.
“I played right in my freshman year in college,” he shrugged.
Reminded that freshman year was 1998 — 10 years ago — DeJesus said it made no difference.
“Outfield is outfield,” he said. “You’ve just got to understand when a righty hits the ball, it’s going to curve one way; and when a lefty hits the balls, it’s going to curve the other way.
“That’s all it is. I really feel that way. I do. The corners are easier for me than playing center field. Just go out there and catch the ball — catch the ball and hit the cutoff man. That’s all you have to worry about.”
Putting DeJesus in right field allowed Hillman to rest Mark Teahen against Florida left-hander Scott Olsen. Teahen is batting just .220 this year with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts in 50 at-bats against lefties.
“Teahen didn’t look too good (Friday) night against left-handed pitching,” Hillman said. “This gives him a chance to get some cage work done and get a break.”
Marlins sign Ramirez
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins made it official before Saturday’s game; Ramirez will be with Florida through 2014 after signing a six-year extension for $70 million.
The new deal comes as Ramirez is poised to gain arbitration eligibility for the first time after this season. He got $23.5 million to surrender his three arbitration years and another $46.5 million to cover his first three years of free-agent eligibility.
Ramirez, 24, was the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year and carried a .317 average into Saturday with nine homers and 23 RBIs in 41 games.
No media outlet tracks baseball’s annual draft closer than Baseball America, which makes its first mock draft — available at www.baseballamerica.com — an interesting discussion point.
The magazine projects the Royals to take Florida State catcher Buster Posey with the third overall pick when teams gather June 5-6 in Orlando, Fla. If so, that would set up a third straight summer of negotiating with agent Scott Boras.
The BA mock draft has Tampa Bay taking Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham with the first pick, and Pittsburgh following with Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
Right-hander Kyle Davies lowered his ERA to 2.09 by pitching six shutout innings Friday night in Class AAA Omaha’s 6-2 victory at Albuquerque.
Davies improved to 5-2 as he allowed five hits while striking out four and walking two. He threw 59 strikes in 96 pitches. Davies gave up one run and five hits in six innings in his previous start, a 9-5 victory over Portland.
•Hitting coach Mike Barnett rejoined the club after missing Friday’s game to attend the high school graduation of his son, Anthony, in Tennessee. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez is Anthony Barnett’s godfather. Mike Barnett and Gonzalez coached together from 1987-89 at the University of Tennessee.
•The Royals entered Saturday in search of their first six-game winning streak since they opened the 2003 season with nine straight victories. Their five-game streak was their first since last June 24-29.
•The Royals entered Saturday’s game with a 10-9 road record. They haven’t finished with a winning road record since going 43-39 in 2003.
•The Royals also entered Saturday with 21 victories in their last 34 interleague games.
Closers: Still perfect in save opportunities
Joe Nathan, Twins, 13 for 13
Joakim Soria, Royals, 11 for 11
Mariano Rivera, Yankees, 11 for 11
Brad Lidge, Phillies, 10 for 10
Matt Capps, Pirates, 9 for 9
B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays, 7 for 7
Royals’ closers: Perfect at the start
Pitcher, Year, Successful saves to start a season
Joakim Soria*, 2008, 11
Al Hrabosky, 1978, 11
Mike MacDougal, 2003, 10
Steve Farr, 1989, 10
Steve Mingori, 1976, 10
* Through Friday