Duffy allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base safely. After a leadoff walk to George Springer and a single by Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve drove in both with a double as the high-powered Houston offense opened up a 2-0 lead before Duffy could record an out.
"I thought for the most part in the first inning, he was throwing the ball good," manager Ned Yost said. "Command was off a little bit. He threw a couple pitches that caught too much of the plate, and this is a team that feasts off that."
Duffy worked out of the jam and was stable for the next four innings, allowing just one earned run in the fifth. It wouldn't last, however, thanks to one crucial mistake in the next inning.
With runners on first and second, Duffy threw a wild pitch to start the at-bat with Max Stassi. On the very next pitch, Duffy hung a changeup high and outside, and Stassi planted it in the left-field bullpen to boost Houston's lead to 7-2. Duffy was pulled at the end of the inning.
"Really up until that changeup, I was pretty pleased with my outing," Duffy said. "I think that if you look at a line, it's gonna be a little bit deceiving in this particular instance. But nonetheless, still six innings, six runs … obviously not satisfied with it."
Bregman added a three-run homer of his own off reliever Burch Smith in the ninth to cap the scoring.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED The Royals appeared to have a big inning brewing in the fifth when Drew Butera reached on an error by Carlos Correa. After Ryan Goins singled and Whit Merrifield's double knocked in Butera, Mike Moustakas reached on an infield single after first baseman Yuli Gurriel couldn't scoop a throw from Correa. The table was set for Salvador Perez with the potential tying runs in scoring position, but he struck out swinging to end the inning.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Alex Gordon robbed Carlos Correa of a hit in the fourth inning, when he went full extension to corral the liner, losing his sunglasses and earning a tip of the cap from Duffy. The ball had a 43 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT "We've played some good baseball, obviously teams that we've been playing have played better than we have. We've just got to figure out a way to win some ballgames. It hasn't been fun. Winning's a lot better. Everything's great when you're winning. Everything [stinks] when you're losing." -- Duffy, on the frustration within the clubhouse as the Royals have now dropped 11 of their last 12 games
UP NEXT Royals right-hander Brad Keller (1-2, 2.31 ERA) will start the series finale against the Astros at 1:15 p.m. CT on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. He's made just three starts this season since transitioning out of the bullpen, and he has yet to surrender more than two runs in a start. Righty Lance McCullers Jr. (8-3, 3.83) will get the start for Houston.
Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.