As Duffy and right-hander Kris Medlen battle for the No. 4 spot in the playoff rotation -- a big issue with the Royals well ahead in the American League Central -- Duffy appeared to take a step ahead in the competition with a serviceable outing Saturday in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox.
Duffy went seven innings for the first time since Aug. 4 and gave up four runs while walking two and striking out seven. Medlen got rocked for seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings during Friday night's 12-1 loss.
"I felt like I threw the ball well, but I thought [catcher] Drew [Butera] called a great game," Duffy said. "It's a shame that we have to take an 'L' when he called that good a game. ... I was happy with the way I competed, just not happy with the results."
Duffy was cruising along into the fourth when he walked Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia smoked a grounder back at him. Duffy wheeled around and appeared to try to glove the ball behind his back, but the ball caromed off him and bounced away for an infield hit. It's uncertain whether the grounder could have been fielded by second baseman Omar Infante had Duffy let it go.
"That went right off my wallet," Duffy said. "I know [Alcides Escobar] or Omar is probably making that play. But that's the way the game goes."
With one out, Duffy faced Alexei Ramirez and thought he had him struck out on an 0-2 fastball at the knees. It was called a ball, and then Duffy hung a breaking ball on the next pitch that Ramirez crushed for a three-run homer. Game, set and match.
"In the moment, I thought it was a strike, yes, but not when I went back to look at it," Duffy said. "I had seen it with my heart and not my eyes. He had called a strike low in the zone earlier, but that one was lower.
"I just didn't execute on that slider and that came back to bite me."
Royals manager Ned Yost was generally impressed with Duffy's outing.
"I thought Duff was better [than in previous outings]," Yost said. "He made one mistake that cost him a three-run homer to Ramirez there. Had a 1-2 count, had all kinds of leeway to execute a pitch. He was trying to go with a back-foot slider and just left it down the middle.
"I thought that Danny did a nice job of getting ahead in the count. Much more consistently down in the zone. His secondary was, for the most part, pretty good tonight. He was throwing them for strikes, just seemed to make that one mistake."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.