Danny Duffy struck out eight in six shutout innings and allowed just one hit to lead the Royals over the A’s on Tuesday night in a 3-0 game cut short by rain.
The game was delayed to start off and rain fell all night. In the top of the eighth, Eric Hosmer swung and missed at strike three and lost the grip on his bat. After that, umpire Jim Joyce stopped the game and the tarp came onto the field. Just over an hour later, the game was called.
The Royals put up three runs, breaking a 25 inning scoreless streak in Oakland going back to last season and including last night’s mystification at the hands of Tom Milone. Mike Moustakas drove a double deep to center that fell to the ground after Yeonis Cespedes barely got to it and Billy Butler scored. Jeff Francoeur scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Humberto Quintero. Mitch Maier added a solo homerun in the seventh after coming into the game for Lorenzo Cain.
Cain had made a long run to catch up to a Daric Barton fly ball at the warning track and turned it into a double play when Collin Cowgill took off and couldn’t get back to first. He hit the wall and came off the field gingerly and after stepping into the on deck circle for his next at bat, came out of the game. With the wet field it may have just been a precaution but more details will come later.
Alex Gordon continued to go hitless after walking in his first at bat. He hit a few balls hard but they were right at people. He’s just not getting the luck right now.
The star of the night, though, was Duffy. After a 21 pitch first inning, it looked like a typical Duffy start. He opened up with an eight pitch at bat against Jemile Weeks before striking out Coco Crisp and Jonny Gomes (with a Cespedes walk sandwiched between). He walked Cowgill in the second and benefitted from the Cain catch and double play to get out of the inning quickly and erased the only base hit of the game against him – a double by Cliff Pennington – by picking him off of second base.
Then he went to work, retiring ten of his next twelve with five strikeouts.
He was working his fastball on both sides of the plate and his curve ball was breaking hard. Duffy got 16 swinging strikes out of his 103 pitches. Oakland just couldn’t hang with him. He had some issues with control (walking four overall) and seemed to struggle with a wet pitching mound in the fifth inning in walking two batters. It drove up his pitch count, but he also put up the six scoreless, which is encouraging. His start counted for a 74 Game Score, making it his best start as a big leaguer. Aaron Crow worked the bottom of the seventh and worked through the A’s quickly, striking out two. By being the final pitcher, he’s credited with his first major league save.
Duffy’s solid start caps off an unexpected first trip through the Royals starting rotation. Billed as the key weakness during the offseason, through five starts, the Royals starters have amassed 29 innings and given up just five runs. It’s only one trip through, so we can’t start planning the parade yet, but all five starters have handled their assignments so far. Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza suffered from a lack of run support (and one rough inning by the bullpen after Chen), but Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez earned wins in their starts.
The A’s and Royals are going to try to get the last game of the series in tomorrow afternoon, but rain is still in the area so there may be delays or postponements. With the win – even if it’s a short game – the Royals will return to Kansas City with at least a .5o0 record before Friday’s home opener.
Bruce Chen will take on Brandon McCarthy tomorrow.