The end of “Danny Duffy, top-end starter” has arrived.
The latest in a long series of less-than-good starts came Saturday night in a 9-3 loss to the New York Yankees. Again, Duffy didn’t manage to make it out of the fifth inning, the fourth time this season that’s happened. Again, he was erratic (three walks, his fifth start in 10 with three or more walks). Again, the long ball bit him—he’s allowed 14 in 10 starts now, including three starts in May with multiple long balls.
You get the idea. It’s been bad. It’s getting worse. I am… uncertain… as to how much longer it can continue. It’s shades of Alex Gordon the previous two seasons and while Gordon has been better this season, he’s also 4-for-34 with 13 strikeouts since May 9, meaning that even when it comes slightly back, it never comes all the way back once it’s gone.
There was no pretense to this, either; it’s not like Duffy was rolling merrily along before the whole thing blew up. He gave up a run in the first on a Gary Sanchez double, then another in the third after Aaron Hicks’ leadoff inside-the-park homer, which… sometime, we need to talk about how bad Jorge Soler misplayed/misjudged/mis-everythinged this. It was the Picasso of poorly-played inside-the-park homers. Soler, leaping at the wall with nary a prayer in the world; Soler, ass-over-tea-kettle as the ball caroms toward center field; Jon Jay getting to the ball first and firing it with his Johnny Damon-esque “cannon” to a disdainful Merrifield as Hicks scored. A true masterpiece, and I say that as an unabashed Soler Fan.
Duffy was tagged for three in the fourth on a three-run Gleyber Torres moon shot; he mercifully exited before the start of the fifth, largely because he was already at 95 pitches but also there was no point in going forward. He was what he was Saturday night.
With that for background, does anything that happened offensively really matter? Well, no. But also yes! For example: Ryan Goins! 2-for-2! Two runs! An RBI double and also a double that didn’t drive anybody in!
Ryan Goins is also the No. 9 hitter and was (JUSTIFIABLY) lifted for Abraham Almonte with two outs in the ninth. Ryan Goins is bad in the same way that Alcides Escobar is now bad, and Escobar is hitting ahead of Goins on the regular. I dunno man; those two had three of the nine hits, and Goins was the only multi-hit batter aside from Mike Moustakas. Luis Severino is really good, and he showcased it over six innings, striking out six and yielding just three earned.
Two of those three runs tied the game in the Royals third. Escobar led off with a single, Goins scored him with a double and moved to third on a Jay sacrifice. Then Soler singled him in, Moustakas singled and moved Soler to second… and with a big inning brewing, Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield struck out.
Two innings later, Moustakas singled to drive in Goins. With the Royals trailing 5-3 and two away, Perez hit one to the base of the wall. Moustakas chugged as much as he can chug, but Stanton fired a strike to Ronald Torreyes, who nailed Sanchez at the plate to end the inning.
Unfortunately, all this was after Torres’ big swat and by then… well, you know the rest. When the Royals bullpen is good (which it wasn’t amazing on this night), the offense can’t find a run. When the offense rallies, the bullpen is a sieve.
Saturday was the worst of all worlds.
Merrifield led off the sixth with a double. Goins led off the seventh with a double. But nobody did anything to make those inning-opening extra-base hits stand up.
In the seventh, Burch Smith gave up a homer to Sanchez, and things would’ve been worse had the Jay-Merrifield-Salvy relay not nailed a chugging Miguel Andujar at the plate.
In the ninth, Blaine Boyer did that thing where he gave up two gopher balls, one to Giancarlo Stanton (which got a little wet out in left-center) and another to Sanchez, who was 4-for-5 with three extra-base hits; he was hitting .204 coming into the game and .225 coming out of it. The Royals are a slump buster.
But hey, good for Sanchez. Tenth career multi-homer game, third this season. Stanton is the fourth-youngest player to 500 career extra base hits. As for the Royals… Merrifield’s hit streak is up to 12 games!
The Bright Spot: Goins has five career RBI against Luis Severino. Who woulda thought that Goins would own Luis Severino of all people, only one of the best young starters in baseball?
The Nadir: What does the phrase “third-worst 45-game start in team history” mean to you?
The Next Step: Sonny Gray vs. Eric Skoglund. I don’t have a punchline. Skoglund was good the last time out, so he’ll likely be dismal this go-round. Not to be the neighborhood old fart, but I remember when Sonny Gray was good. Now he’s got a 6.39 ERA. He’ll probably throw a two-hitter Sunday, so there’s that to look forward to.