Danny Duffy's starts this year have been decidedly Jekyll and Hyde. He'll turn in an excellent start, peripherals be damned, and then he'll turn in an actually brilliant start. The other half of the season's starts have been like tonight--bad all around. Duffy's poor performance was only a part, though, as the entire Kansas City Royals team seemed lethargic as they lost to the Boston Red Sox 4-1 at Fenway Park.
Indeed, the Red Sox capitalized on Bad Danny immediately. Mookie Betts and Pablo Sandoval led off with consecutive singles, and David Ortiz worked a walk following what was essentially a sac-groundout by Xander Bogaerts. This loaded the bases for Hanley Ramirez, who somehow struck out looking with the ump's tiny zone. Still, Duffy gave them a free run, as he proceeded to walk Travis Shaw on five pitches. Though that would be their only run scored in that frame, the Red Sox led 1-0 nonetheless.
Duffy again encountered armed resistance in the third inning. Bogaerts singled to lead off, but a strikeout and a groundout replaced him at first base with Ramirez. With two outs and a two-strike count against Shaw, Duffy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and gave up three consecutive hits: a double to Shaw, a single to Hanigan, and a triple to Jackie Bradley, Jr. This placed the score at 4-1 Red Sox. Duffy squeezed through another two innings to finish with five innings pitched, four runs (all earned), two walks, and three strikeouts.
The Royals achieved their lone run with a barely fair, glorious rope of a home run from Mike Moustakas, who has been scuffling as of late. Otherwise, the offense was completely limp for most of the game. As is often the case in these types of games, the Red Sox starter was a lefty lacking extreme velocity, Wade Miley. Miley sliced and diced the Royals lineup, striking out six whilst walking none in his 7.1 innings pitched.
It was Miley's final inning wherein the Royals awoke to realize they are a good baseball team and still had a chance at winning. Paulo Orlando came to first base due to a throwing error by Sandoval. He did not attempt to steal second base but got there after a Miley wild pitch. Alcides Escobar worked a full count but struck out swinging anyway. Against new reliever Alexi Ogando, Ben Zobrist worked a full count but grounded out, though it did allow Orlando to go to third base. Ogando walked Lorenzo Cain on four pitches. Eric Hosmer stepped to the plate with two speedy runners and a chance to tie the game. Like Escobar, Hosmer worked a full count--and then struck out swinging at ball four.
Yesterday, the Royals played an intense, rain-delayed game into the wee hours of the morning and still had to fly to Boston. They reportedly arrived at their hotel at a time when the birds were beginning to sing. Considering this, as well as their thoroughly ridiculous lead in the American League Central, it seems unnecessary to criticize them harshly for this game. Teams play poorly sometimes. Even the best team in the American League.