MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals starter Danny Duffy made history Tuesday by becoming the first American League pitcher in the Live Ball Era to allow just one earned run total over a span of six straight road starts.On Sunday, Duffy's road streak came to a screeching halt as the Twins ambushed him
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals starter Danny Duffy made history Tuesday by becoming the first American League pitcher in the Live Ball Era to allow just one earned run total over a span of six straight road starts.
On Sunday, Duffy's road streak came to a screeching halt as the Twins ambushed him for six earned runs, prompting the Royals' 6-5 loss at Target Field. The loss was Kansas City's fourth straight and capped off a series sweep by Minnesota.
Kansas City handed Duffy some early run support when Lucas Duda crushed his 10th homer of the season in the first inning, a two-run shot, off of former Royal Ervin Santana. Duda's long ball left his bat at 104.9 mph and traveled an estimated 431 feet, according to Statcast™.
But Duffy ran into trouble in the second when Miguel Sano and John Forsythe each singled to start the inning and Ehire Adrianza later drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Duffy ran Jake Cave up to a full count and nearly escaped the jam, but Cave hammered a 94.8 mph fastball over the right-field wall for a grand slam.
"Today, Danny's command wasn't all over the place," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "He was just missing by three or four inches. He would try to go away, and then pull it back over the plate. But he did a good job of battling, keeping it right there. We chipped away and I kind of felt like, offensively, we were gonna find some ways to get back into it."
Duffy and Yost both felt the sixth pitch of that at-bat against Cave, a low fastball, could have been a called strike, which would have ended the inning.
"I thought they were strikes, and I looked back and they were strikes," Duffy said. "Three and two, I'm not gonna throw him a slider because my fastball is good enough to get it by him. … I had him punched out twice and it's tough to see the ball go out of the yard. But you still gotta keep pitching."
The Twins added to their lead in the fourth when Adrianza delivered an RBI single, and Robbie Grossman later added a run-scoring double to give the Twins a 6-2 advantage.
Duffy exited after the sixth inning having surrendered six earned runs on eight hits, while striking out six Minnesota batters and walking just one. Coming into Sunday, he owned a 2.21 ERA in 20 career appearances against the Twins, the best in the Majors among active pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings. Sunday marked the 14th straight outing in which Duffy has gone at least five innings.
"I'm at the point where I'm starting to kind of get [by] just keeping our team in the game," Duffy said. "I wanna go out there and dominate every time out, you know? That's what I know I'm capable of."
Royals leadoff man Whit Merrifield cut the Minnesota lead to 6-5 in the seventh inning when he hammered a two-run homer into the Kansas City bullpen. According to Statcast™, the 421-foot shot was Merrifield's longest homer of the season.
The Royals got the go-ahead run to second base in the eighth when Hunter Dozier came on to pinch-hit for Ryan O'Hearn with two outs. Dozier blooped a single to shallow right field to advance Rosell Herrera to third, and then proceeded to steal second. But Twins reliever Trevor May punched out Alcides Escobar with a high fastball to end the threat.
Kansas City once again put the winning run in scoring position in the ninth, but Minnesota closer Fernando Rodney stranded Raul Mondesi at third and Duda at second when he got Herrera to ground out and end the game.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
May whiffs Escobar: Escobar was already 2-for-3 with a double when he stepped to the plate in the eighth with two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position. With the Royals trailing, 6-5, he had a chance to turn a good day into a great one, but he fell behind 0-2 to May. Escobar watched one high fastball go by, but May got him swinging on the next pitch to end the inning.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the third inning, Forsythe hit a high popup into foul territory. O'Hearn ranged back and made a smooth, over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning and strand a runner at second.
Jakob Junis (6-11, 5.12 ERA) takes the ball when the Royals return to Kansas City to face the Cubs at Kauffman Stadium on Monday. Cole Hamels (6-9, 4.53) will make his second start for Chicago in the 7:15 p.m. CT contest.
** Jarrid Denney ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.