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Duffy stays hot, shuts down Twins in KC win

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Danny Duffy continues to shake off his rough start to 2018 and provide evidence that he is still one of the top left-handed starters in the American League.

Duffy, who had a 6.88 ERA through his first 10 starts this season, has dominated over his last 11 outings, posting a 2.58 ERA. On Friday, Duffy delivered another beauty, holding the Twins to one run on five hits over seven innings in the Royals' 6-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

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KANSAS CITY -- Danny Duffy continues to shake off his rough start to 2018 and provide evidence that he is still one of the top left-handed starters in the American League.

Duffy, who had a 6.88 ERA through his first 10 starts this season, has dominated over his last 11 outings, posting a 2.58 ERA. On Friday, Duffy delivered another beauty, holding the Twins to one run on five hits over seven innings in the Royals' 6-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.

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"He's been commanding three pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I mean, three outstanding pitches. He's really got the feel for the curveball, which is a big pitch.

"And more importantly, he's got the feel for the curveball down, down in the dirt, down in the zone with two strikes, which is key. That's a hard pitch to throw. At times, we struggle to throw that pitch, and it's a very, very important pitch. But he's been commanding his secondary stuff really well."

Video: MIN@KC: Duffy freezes Kepler with breaking ball

Duffy, who has given up one run over his last 20 innings, was at his best at the end of his start, getting Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario on called third strikes to finish the seventh.

"I think I knew that I was coming out after that inning, and my job was to really bear down on those two lefties," Duffy said. "We were able to make some good pitches in a big situation at that point in the game. That really helped me get through it."

Duffy got the offense he needed from first baseman Lucas Duda, who had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs.

Video: MIN@KC: Duda skies a solo home run to right

The Royals' bullpen put Duffy's win in jeopardy, though. Jason Hammel allowed a run in the eighth, and Wily Peralta gave up three in the ninth. After allowing a single and a walk, Brandon Maurer got Max Kepler to pop up and seal the victory.

Yost said he opted for Maurer after Peralta got to 35 pitches.

"Once Wily got to 35 pitches, I'm like, 'You know, that's a lot of pitches to throw. You make a mistake here, especially against [Robbie] Grossman, he hits out of the park,'" Yost said. "So I said, 'Let's bring in the fresh arm.' I debated between Maurer and [Kevin] McCarthy, but I got McCarthy hot an inning and a half before that and didn't really want to get him up again. Maurer came in and got the job done."

Video: MIN@KC: Maurer strands tying, go-ahead run for save

Kansas City caught a break in the first inning. Whit Merrifield singled leading off and went to second on a walk to Jorge Bonifacio, and then both runners advanced on a groundout. With two outs, Duda hit an innocent popup down the left-field line. But the Twins were in an extreme shift to the right and the ball fell just out of the reach of Escobar, the third baseman, for a two-run single.

Video: MIN@KC: Duda opens the scoring with a 2-run single

Duda singled in the fourth and scored on Hunter Dozier's double to the left-center-field fence, and the left-handed-hitting slugger then hit his eighth home run of the season in the sixth.

Video: MIN@KC: Dozier lines an RBI double into left center

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Duffy got out of a big jam in the fourth relatively unscathed. Duffy walked Escobar, gave up a bloop single to Grossman and then walked Mitch Garver, loading the bases with none out. But after a sacrifice fly by Kepler, Duffy got a flyout and a popout to hold onto a 2-1 lead. The run, though, ended the southpaw's scoreless streak at 16 innings.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jakob Junis (5-10, 5.13 ERA) will start Game 2 against the Twins at Kauffman Stadium at 6:15 p.m. CT Friday. Junis is making his first start since hitting the disabled list on July 8 with lower back inflammation. Righty Lance Lynn (7-7, 5.22 ERA) will go for Minnesota. Junis struggled in his previous five starts before landing on the DL, notching a 9.33 ERA over 27 innings.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Danny Duffy