The baseball died somewhere along the warning track Friday, vexing Royals hitter Jorge Bonifacio and his manager. Bonifacio had put a charge into a baseball, only to see it fall a few feet shy of changing the outcome of a game.
A day later, on Saturday afternoon, Bonifacio got just enough.
And that was more than plenty for Danny Duffy.
Bonifacio skied his first homer of the season into the White Sox bullpen at Guaranteed Rate Field, the support of a brilliant outing from Duffy in the Royals’ 5-0 win Saturday in Chicago.
Bonifacio drove in the first three Royals runs — two on the first-inning blast and one on an unlikely triple. Duffy backed it with seven shutout innings, elongating his recent return to form, particularly outside of Kauffman Stadium.
Ten starts into his season, the outcomes puzzled Duffy, who endured the worst stretch of his career. He was 1-6. His earned run average stood at 6.88. His manager and pitching coach urged him to stay confident with his pitches, not to ditch his fastball in favor of overthrowing his slider.
The Danny Duffy of old has followed. Including the seven shutout innings Saturday, Duffy has a 2.73 ERA in his past 10 starts. The appearance Saturday marked the seventh time during the stretch that he has lasted at least six innings while giving up one run or fewer. He has allowed only one earned run in his last five road starts, which stretches over 32 innings.
Duffy effectively worked out of trouble Saturday, sidestepping a collection of soft-contact hits. The White Sox placed two runners on base in the third, fourth and six innings, but none of them scored. Duffy prevented productive outs, countering with eight strikeouts.
After a quarter-hour Friday, the Royals faced a three-run deficit they never surmounted. After just four minutes Saturday, they had a two-run lead.
Bonifacio directed right-handed starter Reynaldo Lopez’s fourth pitch of the game over the left-field fence, scoring Whit Merrifield, who opened the game with a single. It was the first bomb of the year for Bonifacio, who sat out the initial 80 games for a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing supplements.
Lopez settled in afterward, his matchups with Bonifacio notwithstanding. Bonifacio tagged him again for a run-scoring triple in the fifth, pushing the advantage to 3-0. Salvador Perez finally chased him from the game with a two-run homer in the eighth. Lopez struck out seven over 7 2/3 innings.
On Friday night, Bonifacio came within a couple of feet of a three-run homer in the eighth inning that would have put the Royals ahead.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected in the fifth inning Saturday for arguing balls and strikes.