Royals

Danny Duffy pitches complete game as Royals defeat White Sox 2-1

Danny Duffy on how things have improved this year

Pitcher Danny Duffy talks about his one-run complete game against the White Sox. Teammate Eric Hosmer also talks about how he's improved this year.
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Pitcher Danny Duffy talks about his one-run complete game against the White Sox. Teammate Eric Hosmer also talks about how he's improved this year.

About 25 minutes after the first complete game of his career, an efficient, brilliant, put-you-on-my-back performance in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox, Danny Duffy stood in the corner of the Royals’ clubhouse.

For close to four minutes, he had faced a wall of cameras and recorders and talked about a transformational season — a campaign that started in the bullpen and may end up in the Cy Young race — and for four minutes, he had deflected the attention.

When a reporter asked Duffy about going nine innings for the first time, he responded with just two words: “I’m stoked.” When another reporter later noted that his 2.82 ERA now led the Amer ican League, he answered with just one: “Neat.”

For four minutes, it went on like this, and then finally catcher Salvador Perez appeared, poking his head into the scrum and looking for some fun.

“I’m just doing my job,” Perez said, beginning a not-so-great impression of Duffy. “Keeping the ball down … the fastball good, the slider good, change-up good, everything was fine, guys. That’s why I threw a complete game today.”

Duffy cracked a smile and shrugged his shoulders. Perez disappeared through a doorway. The interview continued … after a pause.

‘“Am I that boring?” Duffy asked.

This was Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals completed their second straight series victory while improving to 55-59. Duffy crafted another gem, another statement performance in the best season of his career.

Maybe Kansas City’s homegrown ace was here all along. Maybe the pitcher coveted by this Royals franchise for so long has finally arrived.

“He’s learned how to pitch,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer. “And he’s learned what he needs to do to be successful for his team. And he’s going deep into games now, he’s saving bullpens, he’s pretty much doing everything you need from your ace. And there’s no question he is ours.”

Duffy allowed one run, scattered seven hits and finished with six strikeouts and zero walks. He lowered his ERA to 2.82 while improving to 9-1 on the season. He needed just 98 pitches, becoming the first Royals pitcher to go nine innings in a complete game in the regular season since Johnny Cueto last summer.

Banished to the bullpen when the season began, Duffy has emerged with a vengeance, tossing up sensational performances for the better part of two months. On Thursday, he notched his eighth straight victory while emerging as a dark horse Cy Young candidate. In the end, he may not have the bulk of starts or innings to compete for the honor. (We’ll see.) But for now, his numbers speak for themselves.

Since joining the starting rotation on May 15, Duffy is 9-1 with a 2.79 ERA. In the same span, he has recorded 117 strikeouts and issued just 20 walks, holding opponents to a .215 batting average. And how much different does the Royals’ rotation look going forward with a possible ace — a homegrown one — anchoring the front end?

“It’s definitely comforting,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But we feel like (Yordano) Ventura is right behind him. We feel like he’s starting to turn the corner a little bit, too. Just to have two arms like that — that you’ve developed as an organization — is going to be key.”

For one night, Duffy’s excellence covered for an offense that managed just two runs and four hits — despite White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez leaving in the second inning with an injury.

Both runs came in the bottom of the sixth. Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert tied the score at 1-1 with a triple into the right-center gap. Hosmer pushed Kansas City ahead with a soft single into shallow left field. The offensive surge, Duffy said, only served to motivate him.

“I kind of felt another gear,” Duffy said. “I wanted to protect the lead that my team just gave me.”

Before the 2016 season, Duffy had logged eight innings in a start just once in his career. In the last six weeks, he has done it four times. Before the 2016 season, Duffy flashed immense promise while never quite putting it together. In the last six weeks, he has appeared in complete control.

“They’ve always picked me up when I’ve gone five innings and 190 pitches,” Duffy said. “It’s time for me to step up, and I’m really happy that I have.”

And finally, yes, there was the complete game. In his professional career, Duffy had never gone nine innings. Not in Rookie ball. Not in A-ball. Not in Northwest Arkansas or Omaha. His last time going the distance came in high school, he said.

This year, he had been close. On July 2 in Philadelphia, he recorded 26 outs before a high pitch count forced him from the game. On Aug. 1 at Tampa Bay, he struck out a franchise-record 16 hitters, but exited after the eighth inning. On Thursday, he would not be denied. He finished the game on the mound. He struck out Dioner Navarro on the final pitch of the night. He stood on the field and soaked in a Gatorade bath from Perez.

It was, Hosmer said, the kind of thing an ace will do.

“This was cool,” Duffy said. “This was a cool little milestone. But I’m just worried about getting outs and keeping our team in the game.”

Royals 2, White Sox 1

Chicago

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Eaton cf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.269

Saladino 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.250

Cabrera lf

4

0

2

0

0

0

.301

Abreu dh

4

0

1

0

0

0

.280

Frazier 1b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.210

Navarro c

4

0

0

0

0

1

.205

Anderson ss

3

1

2

0

0

1

.267

Sanchez 2b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.129

Coats rf

3

0

1

1

0

0

.120

Totals

33

1

7

1

0

6

 

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dyson cf

3

1

0

0

1

2

.251

Orlando rf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.323

Cuthbert 3b

4

1

2

1

0

1

.303

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

1

0

1

.278

Perez dh

2

0

0

0

0

1

.263

Escobar ss

3

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Butera c

2

0

0

0

0

1

.282

Burns lf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.125

Mondesi 2b

3

0

0

0

0

3

.204

Totals

27

2

4

2

1

11

 

Chicago

010

000

000

1

7

1

Kansas City

000

002

00x

2

4

0

E: Anderson (7). LOB: Chicago 5, Kansas City 4. 3B: Cuthbert (1). RBIs: Coats (1), Cuthbert (36), Hosmer (64). SB: Dyson (18). CS: Burns (4). S: Butera.

Runners left in scoring position: Chicago 2 (Eaton, Coats); Kansas City 3 (Escobar, Mondesi 2). RISP: Chicago 1 for 3; Kansas City 2 for 6. Runners moved up: Sanchez, Orlando, Perez. GIDP: Navarro. DP: Kansas City 1 (Mondesi, Escobar, Hosmer).

Chicago

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Gonzalez

1

1

0

0

0

2

21

4.05

Ynoa

3

0

0

0

0

3

43

3.18

Fulmer L, 0-2

3

3

2

2

1

3

45

8.49

Kahnle

1

0

0

0

0

3

12

5.11

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Duffy W, 9-1

9

7

1

1

0

6

98

2.82

Gonzalez pitched to 0 batters in the 2nd.

HBP: Ynoa (Perez).

Umpires: Home, Mike Everitt; First, Jordan Baker; Second, Tim Timmons; Third, Pat Hoberg. Time: 2:23. Att: 34,310.

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