TORONTO -- For five-plus innings, it looked like Royals starter Danny Duffy was ready to turn in his best start of the 2019 season.
Duffy worked quickly and efficiently through the bulk of his outing, mixing speeds and locations to force some off-balance swings from the Blue Jays’ hitters. But the left-hander gave up two homers as Toronto surged to a 6-2 win on Friday night in the series opener at Rogers Centre.
“Early on, I thought I had a lot better command of everything than later, obviously,” Duffy said. “I try to see the good in everything, but the negative is still definitely front and center. It’s definitely a bummer the way it went down.”
Duffy hit some turbulence in the sixth inning on what looked like a harmless blooper off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a case of tough batted-ball luck that came back to haunt Kansas City as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. launched a tying two-run home run -- the first of his two jacks in the game -- in the following at-bat.
One inning later, Eric Sogard pulled a solo shot into the seats in right to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. The two home runs were hit hard, but Duffy still likely should have escaped with a better outcome. Both homers came off Duffy’s slider, a pitch that he’s walked a fine line with.
“My slider’s been my best pitch, but it’s also been my worst pitch, if that makes any sense,” Duffy said. “I think when I baby it and try to be a little too fine, it stays up. When I really get through it, you see a lot of swings and misses, and swings that don’t look like they’re on it at all."
After surpassing six innings just once in his first eight starts of the season, Duffy has now done it in three of his last four outings.
“It’s just execution. It’s always execution, it doesn’t matter who or what,” manager Ned Yost said. “If he’s having success, it’s because he’s executing pitches, and he was doing that today. He made two mistakes and he had to pay for both of them. A lot of times, guys will pop mistakes up or foul them back. He had to pay for two of them today.”
Once Duffy exited, the Royals’ bullpen could not keep the game within reach late. Wily Peralta gave up Gurriel’s second homer of the game -- a leadoff shot in the eighth -- and Tim Hill gave up an insurance two-run homer to Randal Grichuk, although one run was charged to Peralta, who walked Cavan Biggio after giving up the homer to Gurriel.
Kansas City’s offense produced a handful of impressive individual performances, but the Royals didn’t manage to string enough hits together consecutively. Gordon logged three hits with a double and an RBI, while Martin Maldonado hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot.
“Gordon had a great night, Maldonado had a great night. We had opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize on some of them,” Yost said.