Y’all thought this was gonna be the one.
I’ll admit it, I did too. When the Kansas City Royals took that early lead, Danny Duffy was showing faint traces of old Danny Duffy and the Red Sox looked unable to cope with whatever was going on during the first three or so innings, it seemed like the time was right for the Royals to pick up their first series victory in 2018. Against the Red Sox, no less—as dominant a team as has ever ripped through the season’s first month.
Mookie Betts had other ideas. The Sox diminutive leadoff hitter cranked a trio of homers—all off Duffy, all impressive—and the Royals were largely stymied after the first couple of innings to take yet another L, falling to 8-22 this season.
And man—the Royals were on Drew Pomeranz from the jump. The last bars of the National Anthem had barely been played before Pomeranz walked Whit Merrifield and surrendered a double to Jorge Soler, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. And while a run would come across on Salvador Perez’s sac fly, Soler was caught wandering off second and doubled off because NICE THINGS AREN’T ALLOWED.
And look, I get it from Jorge’s point of view; Perez tagged that ball, it looked good off the bat, yada yada… but Merrifield is right in front of you, Jorge! Didn’t it even occur to you that if the lead runner thinks there could be circumstances for a tag-up, perhaps you should monitor the situation?
Whatever. Run scores. And then the Royals tack on two more in the second, with Jon Jay and Alex Gordon singling and Drew Butera doubling both home. By the way, Gordon is hitting .274. I don’t care about his batted-ball profile, launch angle, exit velo… it’s just good to have him hitting above his body weight on the regular again.
The worm turned in the fourth inning. Betts homered, a moonshot well over the Monster seats in left. Three batters later, J.D. Martinez homered as well, bringing home Hanley Ramirez to tie the game. But Duffy, to his credit, settled down and got out of the jam, inducing an Eduardo Nunez lineout and a Sandy Leon groundout with two aboard.
In the fifth, Betts homered again. And it’s not like that was the end of the threat, either—Ramirez doubled and Martinez singled with two away and were it not for an exceptional defensive effort from Mike Moustakas, diving to his backhand to make the pick and strong throw to first to end the threat. Good thing Moustakas didn’t start at first, as was originally planned.
It was clear right around here that Duffy was running out of gas, or at the very least no longer stymieing the Sox the way he had earlier in the contest. Yet there he was, back out for a mostly-uninteresting sixth inning—only Nunez reached base, and Duffy picked him off—and again in the seventh, where he again faced Betts, who again homered.
You know, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Fool me three times and I’m probably Ned Yost handling a pitcher.
The eighth and ninth were largely perfunctory. We’ve seen this before—in the eighth, Cheslor Cuthbert homered to get it back to within a run, but with Craig Kimbrel due in the ninth, it was tie game or go home. Kimbrel instead did that thing where he struck out all three batters faced in the ninth, earning his eighth save. Duffy is 0-4. Time is a flat circle.
The Bright Spot: Rerunning oddities aside, Soler is hitting .315 and looking like the guy they thought they were getting last year. Alex Gordon doesn’t suck (this week, at least)! Brad Keller was fine!
The Nadir: Why on earth was Danny Duffy allowed a third chance to pitch to Mookie Betts? Why? Whyyyyy?
[Nancy Kerrigan sob-voice] WHHYYYYYYYYYYY?????
The Next Step: Back to Kauffman the Royals go, and Eric Skoglund will help them greet Detroit and Mike Fiers, who last saw the Royals on April 21 and got his face kicked in, in theory (10 hits, no strikeouts over 5.1 innings), if not in practice (four runs, just two earned). Skoglund’s last start, against Chicago, was the best of his career. Expect his UCL to fray like the end of a cheap rope sometime during the third inning on Thursday.