What would you expect to get out of Danny Duffy on three day’s rest?
Historically, the answer had been pretty good, depending on your perspective. In two career starts on less than four days of rest he’d pitched seven innings and allowed three hits, one earned run and struck out seven.
The problem is that was total. Both previous times—May 3, 2014 against Detroit and May 15, 2016 against Atlanta—also represented Duffy’s first start of the season after performing more of a long man role out of the pen. It was basically a bridge start, the kind of thing that happens when you can’t send a guy to the minors to get stretched out but still need him to start working longer into the game.
Saturday Duffy started on three days rest because Major League Baseball is actively trying to screw the Royals trying to help Kansas City make up for all the days recently lost due to weather/natural disaster. Which meant Duffy was unlikely to go the distance, thereby turning the game over to Kansas City’s bullpen and making a bad situation infinitely worse.
Is that exactly what happened? Buddy you know it was! Duffy threw 101 largely ineffective pitches, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs, although we’ll get to how that’s not exactly all his fault later, before yielding to the bullpen which was once more only too happy to toss some gas onto the fire.
The Tigers got going in the very first inning Leonys Martin led off with a double, with Duffy limiting Jeimer Candelario and Miguel Cabrera to ground outs. Then Nick Castellanos singled to score Martin and get the Motor City Kitties on the board—to which the Royals responded an inning later with singles from Cheslor Cuthbert, Abraham Almonte and Drew Butera, the last scoring Cuthbert.
The Royals had a chance to go ahead in the third when Mike Moustakas extended his hitting streak to 13 games and advanced to second on a two-out Jorge Soler walk. Cuthbert flew out and Detroit tacked on two in the third on a two-run swat by Castellanos.
Ah but our heroes responded in the fourth by loading the bases (Almonte single, Alcides Escobar single, Butera reaches on an error), and tacked on runs thanks to a Jon Jay groundout and a Whit Merrifield sac fly.
The fifth inning is where the wheels came off for Duffy and by extension, the Royals. He surrendered a leadoff single to Victor Martinez, then got JaCoby Jones to line out and James McCann to strike out. That set up this sequence:
- Jose Iglesias single, Martinez to second
- Dixon Machado single, Martinez scores, Iglesias to third.
- Tim Hill replaces Duffy
- Martin singles on a bunt mishandled by Butera (not that he would’ve gotten the speedy Martin anyway). Bases loaded.
- Candelario walks. Iglesias scores. Bases still loaded.
- Cabrera walks. Machado scores. Bases still loaded.
- Kevin McCarthy replaces Hill.
- Castellanos flies out.
Given what the Royals have become in terms of a bullpen, this was never going to go well, but the offense kept trying, God bless ‘em. Almonte, having the game of his life, led off with a single, followed by an Escobar double that moved him to third. Butera popped out (of course) but Jay scored Almonte on a ground out to get the Royals back within two runs.
And then Jones homered in the bottom of the sixth (bad).
And then two Justin Grimm walks were begat by a Cabrera single, a Castellanos double and a Martinez sac fly in the seventh (worse).
And then Burch Smith loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, leading to two runs (why am I still watching this).
And then the Royals meekly folded in the ninth, turning a two-run game into an eight-run whipping (what did I just do with my Saturday).
The Bright Spot: Abraham Almonte went 3-for-4 and yes that is the whole joke.
The Nadir: Pretty much anything that happened after Danny Duffy departed, although kudos to the Royals offense for allowing Warwick Saupold to record seven outs on just 12 pitches. That a way to work the count.
The Next Step: Eric Skoglund is the next sacrifice to the baseball gods; he and his 9.31 ERA go against Francisco Liriano, who pitched 6.2 innings and gave up one run against Kansas City, April 2. The Royals will go for the most unlikely series split in recent history. Rumor is if they get it the city of Detroit will have a referendum on whether or not to just ban baseball.