With the follow-up season to a World Championship having devolved into what can nicely be termed a dismal affair, one of the few bright spots - maybe the only bright spot - has been the unexpected emergence of Danny Duffy as the staff ace. Relegated to the bullpen at the onset of the season after a young career spent nibbling around the edges of the strike zone despite having wipeout stuff, the young southpaw seized the opportunity granted him when he stepped back into the rotation in May with gusto.
If one game of this standout season was his crowning achievement, it was tonight’s game.
Duffy dazzled the Devil Rays in front of the hostile crowd at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Russia. Frankly, dazzling is an insufficient description of what he did. Duffy dominated like no Royals pitcher has done since peak Zack Greinke. Hell, Zack Greinke never did this to anyone.
In a shutdown, record-breaking performance, Duffy struck out 16 Devil Rays in eight innings. 16. 16 strikeouts.
More than that, he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, broken up by a Desmond Jennings double. To that point, he had only allowed a walk to Logan Forsythe leading off the fourth. That Forsythe walk was the only baserunner other than Jennings that Duffy allowed.
It took him 110 pitches to make it through the eighth while striking out a whopping 16 batters. Those 16 Ks are a Royals’ record, edging out Greinke’s previous franchise-best mark of 15.
To say Duffy was rolling tonight is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. His game score, which was 100*, passed the best mark in franchise history, 98, previously held by Dick Drago on May 24, 1972.
For six innings, however, it looked like the Royals’ offense might undermine their left-handed ace, as the offense struggled to mount much of an attack against starter Chris Archer. There was even a brief moment in the fourth where Forsythe reached third on an error on a pick-off throw from Duffy, where it looked as though the anemic Royals’ offense might hang their ace out to dry.
Fortunately, with the game knotted at zeroes in the top of the seventh, Kendrys Morales broke the stalemate with a solo shot. The Royals tacked on two more runs in the eighth, and Kelvin Herrera closed out with a perfect ninth to secure the 3-0 Royals win.
Danny Duffy was magnificent. Behold the beauty of the Duffman.
*That’s actually his Game Score V. 2.0. His traditional Game Score was just 95, though he accomplished the feat in eight innings versus Drago’s 12 pitched to reach 98.