KANSAS CITY — Danny Duffy continues to shake off his rough start to 2018 and provide evidence that he is still one of the top left-handed starters in the American League.
Duffy, who had a 6.88 ERA through his first 10 starts this season, has dominated over his last 11 outings, posting a 2.58 ERA. On Friday, Duffy delivered another beauty, holding the Twins to one run on five hits over seven innings in the Royals’ 6-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
“He’s been commanding three pitches,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I mean, three outstanding pitches. He’s really got the feel for the curveball, which is a big pitch.
“And more importantly, he’s got the feel for the curveball down, down in the dirt, down in the zone with two strikes, which is key. That’s a hard pitch to throw. At times, we struggle to throw that pitch, and it’s a very, very important pitch. But he’s been commanding his secondary stuff really well.”
Duffy, who has given up one run over his last 20 innings, was at his best at the end of his start, getting Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario on called third strikes to finish the seventh.
“I think I knew that I was coming out after that inning, and my job was to really bear down on those two lefties,” Duffy said. “We were able to make some good pitches in a big situation at that point in the game. That really helped me get through it.”
Duffy got the offense he needed from first baseman Lucas Duda, who had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs.
The Royals’ bullpen put Duffy’s win in jeopardy, though. Jason Hammel allowed a run in the eighth, and Wily Peralta gave up three in the ninth. After allowing a single and a walk, Brandon Maurer got Max Kepler to pop up and seal the victory.
Yost said he opted for Maurer after Peralta got to 35 pitches.
“Once Wily got to 35 pitches, I’m like, ‘You know, that’s a lot of pitches to throw. You make a mistake here, especially against [Robbie] Grossman, he hits out of the park,'” Yost said. “So I said, ‘Let’s bring in the fresh arm.’ I debated between Maurer and [Kevin] McCarthy, but I got McCarthy hot an inning and a half before that and didn’t really want to get him up again. Maurer came in and got the job done.”
Kansas City caught a break in the first inning. Whit Merrifield singled leading off and went to second on a walk to Jorge Bonifacio, and then both runners advanced on a groundout. With two outs, Duda hit an innocent popup down the left-field line. But the Twins were in an extreme shift to the right and the ball fell just out of the reach of Escobar, the third baseman, for a two-run single.
Duda singled in the fourth and scored on Hunter Dozier’s double to the left-center-field fence, and the left-handed-hitting slugger then hit his eighth home run of the season in the sixth.