Duffy’s strong start isn’t enough to lift Royals

KANSAS CITY — Three takeaways from the Royals’ tough 3-1 loss to the Rays on Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Duffy sharp

Lefty Danny Duffy, in just his second start of the season, pumped strikes throughout his six-inning outing. Commanding his fastball, sinker and slider, Duffy gave up six hits — all singles — and one run, while walking one and striking out six.

The only difficulty Duffy got in came in the fifth, and it was not entirely his fault. With one out, Willy Adames singled to center. Nate Lowe followed with a single to right.

Duffy appeared to get Guillermo Heredia on a 2-2 four-seamer on the corner, but the pitch was called a ball by umpire Kerwin Danley. Heredia then floated a fly ball to short center that dropped and scored a run.

“I didn’t make good pitches,” Duffy said. “They had two dudes on and they took swings on pitches where I didn’t want them. They shouldn’t have been [on] in the first place. I didn’t see the pitch, but Kerwin gave me a few, too. That wasn’t the difference in the outcome. He had a great zone today.”

Yost added, “Yes, it was a strike. Of course it was. I thought it was. I went back and looked at replay, but it was. But at the end of the day, that’s not what you beat you.”

Duffy got out of further danger by getting Yandy Diaz to fly out and Tommy Pham to strike out.

“That was nice,” Duffy said. “Back when I was younger, I would let certain mistakes compound. But I stayed really calm and focused, staying in the moment. The best version of myself is just staying calm.”

Duffy threw 100 pitches, 73 for strikes — an improvement from his 86/51 first outing.

“I feel like I was attacking the zone a little more with my fastball,” Duffy said. “I was just following [catcher Martin Maldonado]. I think I shook him once. I just felt really good.

“I still feel like I have a good fastball, just not as good as it once was. We were able to utilize it when we had to. But my cutter/slider, whatever it is, and my curve got me through today.”

Tough day for Mondi

Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi had a tough time seeing the pitches from Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton.

Mondesi struck out on a curveball in the first, struck out on a curveball with Whit Merrifield on third and one out in the third, and he struck out on a curveball with Merrifield on third and two out in the fifth.

After the third strikeout, Mondesi slammed his bat down on the ground.

It was a frustrating day for more than just Mondesi — Kansas City went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“Anytime you get an opportunity like that and you don’t capitalize on it, it’s always gonna feel like a wasted opportunity because it is a wasted opportunity,” Yost said. “It’s plain and simple. When you break it down, Charlie Morton is a really, really good pitcher. He’s extremely tough in those situations.

“You got a man on second, nobody out, and you’re trying to drive it the other way. Well, Charlie Morton is going to pound sinkers in on your hands. He’s just tough. He’s tough. He can execute those pitches. He’s got great movement to them.”


Bad splitter

The Royals’ bullpen appeared to be holding the Rays down after a combined two scoreless innings from Jake Diekman and Scott Barlow.

And right-hander Wily Peralta already had two outs with a runner on first when he went 2-2 in the count to Brandon Lowe.

Peralta came with a splitter that stayed waist-high, and Lowe seemed to simply throw his bat at the pitch. Lowe connected and pulled it into the right-field bullpen for a two-run homer, breaking a 1-1 tie.

“He elevated a split,” Yost said. “That was it.”

Peralta said he wanted the splitter down and away.

“Like the one he swung and missed on earlier,” Peralta said. “He just got the barrel on this one.”