A pair of two-run home runs sullied the pitching line of Royals southpaw Danny Duffy and snapped a streak of impressive outings from Kansas City pitchers in a 10-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Duffy gave up four runs in five innings.
Duffy looked in total command at the start. He did not give up a hit in the first three innings. The next two were less fruitful.
All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt crushed a home run in the fourth after Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock opened the inning with a double. In the fifth, Pollock blasted a homer of his own after a leadoff single.
Duffy still finished with seven strikeouts. He has a 4.91 ERA for this camp. He has appreciated the freedom to ready himself for the season, rather than pitching to compete for a spot on the roster.
“I feel like I’m right where I need to be,” Duffy said. “And that’s a beautiful thing. Because it’s the first time in nine seasons that I can say that out of spring training.”
The Royals have insisted they were not worried about the shaky performance of their veterans at the start of camp.
“I couldn’t care less about ERAs,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “I couldn’t care less about stats in general. I don’t care if every pitcher has an ERA over 20 in spring training. You guys like to write about it, because it’s a story, but it’s about building arm strength.”
Royals reliever Louis Coleman gave up another run, which pushed his ERA to 4.22. He is vying against lefty Brian Flynn for the last spot in the Royals’ bullpen.
As for the offense, Lorenzo Cain singled home Omar Infante in the first inning. Infante opened the game with his third double of the spring.
In the fourth, Paulo Orlando rolled a single up the middle for Kansas City’s second run. Orlando looks like the leading contender for the final place on the Royals bench. Eric Hosmer added an RBI single in the fifth for the Royals.
In the seventh, the Royals backups strung together five runs. Alex Liddi hit a two-run double and Gabriel Noriega provided a run-scoring single. Orlando and Moises Sierra each notched RBI doubles to complete the barrage. They tacked on two more runs in the ninth.
The pitchers began to show signs of improvement earlier this week. Jeremy Guthrie allowed only two hits in his last outing. Jason Vargas gave up one run in six innings. Yordano Ventura spun seven hitless innings on Friday night.
The results pleased manager Ned Yost. But he insisted they did not surprise him.
“‘Encouraged’ is a nice word, but ‘encouraged’ would make it seem like I didn’t expect it and I’m very surprised,” Yost said. “And I’m not. That’s the way spring training goes. When you’ve got guys that are veteran guys and guys that have been through what we went through last year, once you get closer to the end of spring training, their bodies just start to go more into that ultra-compete mode.”