Since at least as far back as February 2012, when Royals left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy effectively put an exclamation point on his contract signing by tweeting "Bury me a Royal,” the excitable Duffy often has demonstrated a certain knack for connecting with fans despite some sharp exchanges on Twitter.
His consciousness of fans was on display again Monday, when despite his ragged start the Royals beat Seattle 3-1 to move by day’s end to 4.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.
"We’ve got to win out and just got to keep giving this city hope," said Duffy, who had largely excelled in previous starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.
Uh, did you say "win out?"
Well, Duffy explained, you’ve got to go into every game expecting to win.
"You’ve got to think realistically," he conceded, but added, "I feel like this team could get hot at any time."
It has and can, of course. Just as it has had a tendency to collapse for stretches.
Add up what Duffy called the "rollercoaster" ride, though, and he’s right when he says "the good outweighs the bad."
"Obviously, this is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a while," he said. "We thought it should have come sooner because of the talent on this team and the core of young guys."
The Royals are 71-66, and with a win tonight against the Mariners (62-75) they’d match their victory total of 2012 with 24 games left to play.
Winning tonight would mean that simply going .500 the rest of the season would allow them to match the most wins the franchise has had in a season (84 in 1993) since winning 92 in 1989.
Which would be a nice milestone but would have nowhere near the impact of making the playoffs, which is what Duffy is referring to about hope.
"It’s a very exciting month, it’s a very special year, and this city deserves a winning team, and these guys together are giving them what they deserve," said Duffy, who cites maturation of the team’s young players and reinvigorated chemistry through new veteran leaders as integral to the improvement. "The clubhouse is just night and day from last year. We’re loose, we’re having a blast, you know, and we’ve got a very good opportunity at hand.
"We’ve got six against Cleveland, six against Detroit, and we’ve got a pretty good schedule coming up. So hopefully we can knock out some of these teams and get back to where we need to be."
Or at least give the city hope.