KANSAS CITY-- As Royals starter Danny Duffy took the mound for the series opener against the Rangers on Friday night, there was more on his mind than the performance ahead. About a week earlier, Duffy said he had learned that Liam Shipley, a child he had met just a month
KANSAS CITY-- As Royals starter Danny Duffy took the mound for the series opener against the Rangers on Friday night, there was more on his mind than the performance ahead. About a week earlier, Duffy said he had learned that Liam Shipley, a child he had met just a month ago, had died after a battle with Leukemia.
With thoughts of Shipley on his mind, Duffy logged 6 2/3 strong innings in a 3-1 win over the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. After the game, Duffy made sure to note that he was dedicating that outing to Shipley.
"My effort tonight was for my buddy Liam," Duffy said, his eyes starting to well up slightly. "We were out here playing catch a while ago. He was a fighter."
Duffy went on to describe their relationship and said Shipley asked him questions about how to throw a changeup and that the young boy had an inquisitive nature. Duffy said he was unable to attend services for Shipley, but wanted to let the family know that he was a good kid who meant a lot to him.
"When I heard the news about my buddy, it was really tough, Duffy said. "I just want his family to know that we're still thinking about him."
Duffy turned in one of his strongest performances of the season -- giving up just four hits to the Rangers, who have one of the toughest lineups in the Majors against left-handers.
Duffy, who improved to 6-1 in winning his fifth straight decision, has given up more than three runs in a game just one time since the start of June, while the Royals have won in 10 of his 13 starts.
"Duffy's been doing a great job of that all year," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "Hopefully the other guys can follow and the offense can [continue to] do the same thing."
And even having to navigate with runners in scoring position a few times during the start, Duffy almost managed to escape unscathed.
Duffy's lone blemish came in the fourth inning, when he gave up a solo home run to Rougned Odor. That marked the first time Duffy had given up a regular season homer to a left-handed batter since August 27, 2011 (Jim Thome), although manager Ned Yost was quick to point out that Duffy had given up a home run to a left-handed hitter (Michael Conforto) in Game 4 of the World Series against the Mets.
"That's the one that sticks out in my mind," Yost said. "But [Duffy] is just coming into his own. He's giving us six and seven, and eight strong innings every time he goes to the mound."
As for Duffy, he went right back to that game in 2011, recalling just about everything about the situation.
"[It was against] Thome. It was an opposite-field homer in Cleveland, to tie the game," Duffy said with a chuckle. "It's been a long time. Here's to starting a new streak."
Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Kansas City.