Baseball is so simple and easy when your starting pitcher shoves for 8 2/3 innings and your right fielder belts two home runs. Sit back and enjoy, just like Ned Yost was able to.
The transformation of Danny Duffy into a very good starting pitcher has been something to behold. Sure, he had the talent for a long time, and sure, we’d seen flashes of this ability before. But he has really put it together this year, and tonight may have been the finest start of his career. The lefty pitched 8 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits (six singles), no walks, and striking out eight. And he snapped the streak of Royals pitching allowing home runs at a mere 18 games. His Game Score of 80 was his best of the season; in fact, it was the best of any Royals starter this season. Philadelphia scored one run in the first when Peter Bourjos tripled and Maikel Franco got a grounder through the infield with two outs. And they scored again in the ninth on a hit batter, defensive indifference, and another soft single. In between, Duffy was nails. Just like we all expected at the start of the year, Duffy is now pretty obviously the Royals’ most dependable starter. Oh, and he picked up his first hit and first RBI in this game, too; a swinging bunt-type thing that scored the Royals’ first run.
K-MO Go Boom. Twice.
Kendrys Morales is hot right now. How hot is he? Hotter than donut grease. Hotter than Kansas City blacktop in August. Hotter than…I don’t know, something that’s on fire. Anyway, Morales homered twice in this game. That makes six home runs for the week. Yep, six. Morales now has 14 home runs for the year, good for the team lead. The big Cuban capped the Royals’ five-run second inning with a three-run bomb to right field. Statcast says the ball left Morales’ bat at 109 mph. It traveled 389 feet; that was before it’s flight was rudely interrupted by the facade of the second deck. And then Morales tacked on an insurance run in the eighth with a solo shot to left field; this one had an exit velocity of just 98 mph and went just 382 feet. Two home runs, one from each side of the plate; that’s the first time a Royal has done that since…oh, Ben Zobrist last August. I’m guessing the last time before that was a while ago.
Duffy and Morales had help. Whit Merrifield continued to impress, collecting two more hits, scoring a run, and driving in one too. He’s hitting .315 for the year with a .771 OPS. Very nice. Meanwhile, Cheslor Cuthbert continued a very solid season, picking up two hits and scoring a run. He’s hitting .274 with a .734 OPS this year, numbers I don’t think anyone expected from him when Mike Moustakas was lost for the season. No doubt about it, Merrifield and Cuthbert have really helped the Royals stay in the race.
In other good news, the Indians lost. The Royals are now six games out of first. They’ll try to move a little closer, or at least keep pace, tomorrow at 12:35 pm Central time. Yordano Ventura takes the mound for Kansas City, facing off against Vince Velasquez. Tomorrow marks the halfway point of the season, if you can believe it.
Photo credit: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports