Sometimes baseball doesn’t make sense. Both the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are bad teams this season, so a 8-2 win for the Royals is something that is within the realm of realistic outcomes with 33-year-old Austin Bibens-Dirkx making the seventh start of his major-league career, one that began just last year after toiling away for 12 years in the minors for the Mariners, Cubs, Rockies, Nationals, Blue Jays, and Rangers. Danny Duffy righting the ship and making his best start of the season was also entirely within the realm of possibility, despite the persistent troubles that have plagued the Royals’ southpaw.
What did not make sense was that dastardly duo of Ryan Goins and Ramón Torres were arguably the catalysts for the Royals victory.
After the Royals stranded a pair of two-out baserunners in the first, Ryan Goins stroked a two-out liner to center for a single in the second. Then, making his first plate appearance for the Royals this season despite having been up with the club for a week, Ramón Torres ripped a grounder up the middle. Likely to be good for a single, Delino DeShields charged on the ball on the grass and watched as the ball went under his glove and skittered back toward the warning track. Goins raced home, and Torres sprinted around the bases in 15.39 seconds to just beat the tag at the plate, reaching around a diving Robinson Chirinos to slap the plate.
Spotted a 2-0 lead, Danny Duffy went to work. After allowing a pair of baserunners in the first—one erased by a fluky play where DeShields, who’d managed a lead-off single, took off on a wild pitch that karomed off Salvador Pérez and then bounced off Shin-Soo Choo’s face playing right into Pérez’s hand and setting him up perfectly to gun down DeShields at second—Duffy faced the minimum in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Through those six consecutive innings facing the minimum, he allowed two baserunners, both of whom were erased in double-plays, one of the strike-’em-out/throw-’em-out variety.
This was vintage Danny Duffy on display, attacking the strike zone with his fastball. Duffy was so efficient that he pitched into the eighth inning for the first time this season. Had his night ended before his 21-pitch eighth inning in which he recorded two outs, he’d have allowed zero earned runs for just the second time this season. As it stood, he yielded one run in the eighth, behind a Joey Gallo single and Rougned Odor RBI-double. On the night, Duffy went 7.2 innings on 113 pitches, striking out five, walking two, and allowing four hits and a solitary run.
Given that Duffy only allowed the one run, those two runs in the second on Torres’s little league dong would have been enough for the Royals, but the Royals eight and nine hitters in the lineup got things going again in the fifth. Goins and Torres each singled to start the inning off, and after Jon Jay sac-bunted them to second and third and Whit Merrifield walked, Mike Moustakas stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Bibens-Dirkx fell behind Moustakas in the count 3-1 but ended up getting Moustakas looking on a fastball that started inside but tailed back in and caught the black for a called strike three.
Bases loaded with two outs against the Royals, Salvador Pérez stepped in took the first pitch he saw, a slider low and away, and pulled it into left for a two-run single. That ran the score to 4-0 Royals through five, with each of the first four runs crossing the plate coming from either Ryan Goins or Ramón Torres.
In the seventh, the Royals added another pair of runs when Jon Jay and Whit Merrifield stroked back-to-back one-out singles, ending Bibens-Dirkx’s night on his 109th pitch. With two runners aboard, Jeff Banister fingered Matt Bush, who proceeded to plunk Mike Moustakas and give up another two-run single to Salvador Pérez before getting out of the inning with a Jorge Soler groundout and a Hunter Dozier K.
The Royals tacked on two more runs off Matt Bush in the eighth, with Alcides Escobar singling to right to lead off the frame and Goins working a one-out walk before Jon Jay notched the second Royal out of the inning, grounding out to second but moving Escobar and Goins up a station. With two outs, Merrifield ripped a grounder through the left side of the infield for a double, running the Royals’ lead to 8-0.
The next half-inning was when the Rangers got that one run off Duffy, and Tim Hill allowed another run in a laborious ninth, but at a one-run-an-inning rate, the Rangers would have needed baseball games to be 15 innings long to catch the Royals tonight.
The win for the Royals brings their record to a still miserable 17-32. The Rangers are now 20-32, putting them in last place in the American League West (though they’re still just the fourth-worst team in the AL).