ARLINGTON -- Whatever has been ailing Royals starter Danny Duffy this season, a trip to Globe Life Park, home of the American League's weakest offense, was at least a temporary cure in an 8-2 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.In the opener of a four-game series, Duffy allowed one
ARLINGTON -- Whatever has been ailing Royals starter Danny Duffy this season, a trip to Globe Life Park, home of the American League's weakest offense, was at least a temporary cure in an 8-2 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.
In the opener of a four-game series, Duffy allowed one earned run on four hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings for his longest outing since July 15 of last season, also against the Rangers. He struck out five and threw a season-high 113 pitches, including 76 strikes.
"It was nice to be able to do something beneficial for the team ... Eating innings is what I'm used to, and it was nice to do that tonight," Duffy said.
By and large, the 29-year-old lefty has been disappointing this season, posting a league-high six losses entering Thursday with a whopping 6.88 ERA. Until this gem, he had pitched more than six innings just once in 10 starts, and even that was a forgettable performance -- a road loss against the Red Sox in which he allowed 10 hits and four homers in 6 2/3 innings.
"He needed it -- of course," manager Ned Yost said.
On Thursday, against a Rangers lineup featuring five players batting under .200, as well as the AL's worst batting average (.226) and OPS (.685), Duffy was nearly unhittable after Delino DeShields led off the game with a single before being thrown out at second trying to advance on a wild pitch.
Duffy's fastball was his strikeout pitch as four of his five third strikes came via the heater. But his slider might have been his most effective pitch, as it kept the Rangers hitters off-balance. Duffy said it was as good as it's been all season.
"I saw a couple pitches on the laptop over there and [the slider] was hard today, it was really hard," Duffy said. "I was trying to get more behind it. I threw a few the last couple starts that I just laid in there, and this was straight down, no loop to it. Just tried to keep it simple and do what got me here."
Royals catcher Salvador Perez paced the offense with four RBIs. Whit Merrifield drove in two runs and last-minute sub Ramon Torres, batting ninth, scored three times.
Having built an 8-0 lead with Duffy well below 100 pitches, Yost sent him back out for the eighth inning, when Rougned Odor broke up the shutout with a single to drive in Joey Gallo, who doubled earlier. Yost and Duffy said there was never any thought of letting the lefty call it a night after seven innings.
"This is what I'm used to doing, it's just been awhile," said Duffy, who now has a 2.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers. "Hopefully we build on this, learn from our success today and keep on riding."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Clinging to a 2-0 lead in the fifth, the Royals broke the game open with two more runs to give Duffy more breathing room. Ryan Goins led off with a single and took second on Torres' single. Both runners moved up on Jonathan Jay's sacrifice bunt, and Merrifield's walk loaded the bases. Rangers starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who shouldered the loss, got Mike Moustakas looking, but the righty couldn't sneak an 85-mph slider past Perez, who drove home two with a single over shortstop.
"He hit a pitcher's pitch -- you've got to tip your cap to him," Bibens-Dirkx said. "Right when I let it go, I thought, ground ball, [but] he went down and got it. You look at it, it was a good pitcher's pitch, down and away."
Duffy is one of only seven AL left-handers with at least 20 road wins since the start of the 2014. With his 22nd road victory on Thursday, he is tied for fifth with Jose Quintana behind David Price (33), Chris Sale (31), Dallas Keuchel (28) and J.A. Happ (23).
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Royals took advantage of DeShields' costly second-inning error to score their first two runs. With two out and Goins on first, Torres singled up the middle, where the ball went through center fielder DeShields' legs, just wide of his glove. Goins scored easily and Torres hurried home, too. More >
Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund will make his first career start against the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Globe Life Park. Skoglund is looking for his first win since April 28 and he is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in his past four starts. Lefty Mike Minor, who was a reliever for Kansas City last season, starts for Texas.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas.