KANSAS CITY -- Royals starter Danny Duffy's final line in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers on Saturday night read like a victory: 8 1/3 innings, five hits, one run, no walks and four strikeouts.
"You can take your hat off to the job [Duffy] did tonight, but I don't think it makes [losing] any less painful," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Saturday's start was Duffy's third since returning from the disabled list. It was easily his best outing since coming back, but also one of his finest all season. Duffy pitched an inning longer than any other start this year, and he didn't walk a batter for the second time.
Until the ninth inning, Duffy faced one batter over the minimum thanks to the 24th pick-off of his career in the fifth inning and a double play in the eighth inning. In the second inning, he maneuvered around a leadoff triple by Mike Napoli. From Napoli's triple until the ninth inning, the Rangers didn't have a runner reach second base.
Duffy started the ninth inning at 86 pitches, but he allowed a leadoff single to Jonathan Lucroy. Pinch-runner Joey Gallo advanced to second on Delino DeShields' bunt before Shin-Soo Choo looped a single into left for the go-ahead run. Yost described the two singles as "jam shots."
"Obviously the run scored on a couple of 130-foot hits, but there could have been so many more baserunners today," Duffy said. "It happens, man."
Duffy, who was two outs shy of what could have been his second career complete game, said "everything was working" for him. Yet, he took his sixth loss.
"Duffy was locating his fastball and then when he got in hitter's counts, he threw his offspeed stuff and made us chase," Choo said. "He did that the whole game."