It’s OK. You’re in a safe place. You can go ahead and breathe.
With the 2-1 triumph on the South Side, the Royals have won seven of their last 10. They have won three consecutive series. Ten games ago, they were seven games behind the White Sox in the AL Central standings. Now they’re 2.5 games back.
Seriously. Exhale. Please. You’re turning blue.
You’re Looking Gnar, Braj
The first half of this game was all about Danny Duffy. Put on a 60 pitch limit for his second round as a starter, Duffy once again dazzled. He finished 4.1 innings, allowing four hits, walking none and striking out three. If you’re the type to pick at nits (stop it, it’s going to scar) you can look at his pitch count through the first two innings and use that as ammo in your “Duffy can’t go deep into games argument.” Or perhaps you should just save it.
In the first, Duffy threw 21 pitches. Of those, 18 were strikes. White Sox hitters spoiled nine of them, fouling them off. It was frustrating, to be sure. Yet Duffy never wavered. He battled, and battled, and battled some more. Finally getting out of the frame, retiring Melky Cabrera on a foul out after eight grueling pitches. In the second, it was more of the same. After getting Brett Lawrie on one pitch to lead off the inning, Duffy required 18 more to get the next two outs. This is just who Duffy is at this point.
The good news (and there was a lot of good news on Saturday) is that Duffy battled and kept his focus. Too often we’ve seen an inning get away from him as he’s had difficulty putting away the opposition. Not on Saturday. It was fun to watch.
While We’re Talking About The Pitching
Let’s stay on this topic for a moment. Because the bats aren’t much to write about anyway.
So this bullpen. Whoa. On Saturday, Ned Yost knew he had to keep at least two of his relief bullets – Kelvin Herrera and Luke Hochevar – in his bullpen revolver. Both had pitched frequently over the last week and needed a day of rest. That meant Yost had to do something he’s not quite comfortable doing, and that’s managing his pen on the fly.
After Duffy recorded the first out of the fifth, Yost summoned Peter Moylan. Moylan allowed a single to the first batter he faced, then used a wipeout slider to record back to back whiffs to close out the inning. In the sixth, Moylan pitched around a spot of two out trouble to keep the White Sox off the board. Overall, Moylan threw 13 sliders and got four swings and misses on that pitch.
The plan was probably for Joakim Soria to pitch the eighth, but he was summoned early, when Brian Flynn couldn’t record an out in the seventh. Soria entered with the bases jammed, but got a double play (scoring the run) and another ground out to escape with minimal damage. It was vintage Soria. And with just 10 pitches required, Yost sent him back out for the eighth. Yeah, that made me a bit nervous, especially when he fell behind Jimmy Rollins 3-0 to open the inning. But he came back and whiffed Rollins on a spiked curve and got another pair of ground outs to get the game to the ninth and Wade Davis.
Not exactly like Yost drew up, but close enough.
OK. Let’s talk offense. It’s a short conversation. The Royals did Royal things in the first. Alcides Escobar swung at the first pitch of the game, put the fifth in play, advanced to third on a Lorenzo Cain single, and scored on an Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly.
In the sixth, Cain parked one in the bleachers. The way he was swinging the bat against Miguel Gonzales, it sure felt like he could do some damage if he got hold of one, and he did.
The Royals have scored 11 runs in their last four games. They’ve won three. Hey, whatever works.
Welcome Back, Moose
Mike Moustakas returned to the lineup after spending time on the DL with a broken thumb. Let’s just say his timing was a bit off.
In the corresponding move, the Royals sent Cheslor Cuthbert back to Triple-A. It was a move the Royals had to make as there’s no room for Cuthbert in Kansas City with the Royals carrying eight pitchers in the bullpen. With Hunter Dozier in Omaha, it will be interesting to see if Cuthbert gets some time at second.
Escobar booted a grounder earlier in the game, but once again had a spectacular moment with the glove.
The Royals go for the sweep at 1:10 with Yordano Ventura on the mound. Carlos Rodon takes the ball for the Sox. Read about that match-up in our series preview.