- Danny Duffy had a solid and incredibly efficient start
- The Royals strung together hits again to score a bunch of runs
The Royals seemingly can't lose. They have now won six games in a row, "sweeping" the White Sox (there was a postponed game) and sweeping the Rays. The offense has done the brunt of the work, with the five runs scored on May 29th against the White Sox being the fewest number of runs scored during this six-game run.
Facing ace Chris Archer, the Royals got going early despite leadoff man Alcides Escobar's best efforts. Escobar swung at the first three pitches, none of which was a strike and only one of which was even relatively close. However, Whit Merrifield continued his torrid hitting with a double, and Lorenzo Cain brought him in with a single. It looked like the Rays had a decent chance to get Merrifield at the plate, but Steven Souza Jr.'s throw home was off target.
Cain moved to third on an Eric Hosmer groundout and scored on a single to the opposite field by Kendrys Morales. Rays left fielder Mikie Mahtook looked like he had a chance to catch Morales' sinking liner, but he held up for the "safe play". Paulo Orlando grounded out to end the inning after two runs crossed.
The Royals came right back in the second inning to score a couple more. Omar Infante led off with a single and advanced to second on a Jarrod Dyson sacrifice bunt. Infante ended up scoring on a Drew Butera single through the left side, but it was about as close as a grounder could get to being fielded. The ball bounced off Brad Miller's glove into shallow left field, which allowed Infante to score.
If you look closely, you can practically see the ball inside Miller's glove. Nope. Not tonight. Not during this streak.
Butera moved to third on a double from Escobar and scored on a Cain chopper that third baseman Evan Longoria could not field cleanly. Hosmer grounded out to end the inning, but another two runs crossed the plate.
Danny Duffy pitched well, but the Rays were able to get to him a few times. Mahtook led off the third inning with a double and came around to score later in the inning on a Brad Miller single that was apparently just out of the reach of Infante.
The defense did not let another run score that inning. With Miller on first and two outs, Evan Longoria pounded a pitch to deep left center, and it bounced off the wall to Dyson. Dyson threw a strike to Escobar, who threw a strike to Butera at home plate in plenty of time to tag Miller.
Duffy gave up a home run to Curt Casali in the fifth inning and another run in the sixth, though it was rotten luck. Duffy induced a popup from Longoria to begin the sixth, but the Royals infielders all lost the ball in the twilit sky. The ball dropped harmlessly between Hosmer, Infante, and Duffy. A fielder's choice got an out but kept a runner at first for Logan Morrison's double, which moved the runner to third. Souza Jr. scored on a weak grounder to third base.
Despite throwing only 75 pitches, 51 for strikes, the sixth inning ended up being Duffy's last. His final line was 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, and 1 HR. Duffy averaged only 12.5 pitches per inning; he was efficient and got strikeouts. Ned Yost said they took him out because they have ramped up his pitch count fairly quickly, and they had a rested bullpen. By taking Duffy out then, Yost felt Duffy would be raring and ready to go for his next start.
Duffy made a few mistakes, notably the pitch to Longoria that he almost took deep (the pitch on Casali's homer was a bit inside -- it wasn't a terrible pitch), but he also got some bad luck in the form of the popup dropping in between a bunch of fielders and that run-scoring grounder just out of the reach of Infante. It was definitely a good outing overall.
The Royals responded with some small ball in the bottom of the sixth. Dyson led off with a walk and stole second base. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly from Escobar.
Joakim Soria came on for the top of the seventh inning and ran into a little trouble. Soria got the first out, but then he gave up a double and a walk. Soria got out of the jam by striking out both Miller and Longoria.
Chris Archer was also removed after the sixth inning in favor of Enny Romero. The Royals' singles train immediately departed; Cain, Hosmer, and Morales all singled to load the bases with no outs. Sadly, the Royals got only one run; the singles train promptly reached its destination. A strikeout, a sacrifice fly, and a groundout brought in the lone run of the inning.
Except for a walk and a single allowed by Davis in the ninth, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis faced the minimum over the final two innings to lock down the sweep. The Royals are on fire; just about everything is going their way right now. They have swept the Rays, and other teams have to be looking on their schedules to see when they run into the apparent Royal buzzsaw.