Duffy tips cap after Conforto disrupts his lefty dominance
By Paul Hagen
NEW YORK -- Royals left-hander Danny Duffy pitching against a left-handed hitter is like an overstuffed easy chair and a seat belt for the manager. Like a pair of slippers and a bike helmet. Like a best friend and a smoke detector.
Duffy, see, hadn't allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter since Jim Thome took him deep. That was four years ago.
That remarkable streak came to an end against the Mets in the fifth inning in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night at Citi Field. Duffy, a starter for the majority of the regular season before moving to the bullpen, came on in relief of starter Chris Young, in part because the first New York batter due up was lefty-swinging rookie Michael Conforto, who had already taken Young deep.
On a 2-2 pitch, Conforto smashed his second home run of the game and had the Mets poised to even the best-of-seven Series at two games each, until the Royals rallied with three in the eighth to win, 5-3.
"I feel like I owe the guys a little bit for the amount of picking up they've done, but they always have my back," Duffy said. "That's why I love being in this clubhouse. It's more of a brotherhood than a team."
And, yes, he was aware of how long it had been since he gave up a homer to a left-handed hitter.
"Yeah. It's been a while. But it was going to happen at some point," he said. "I feel like the pitch wasn't even that bad. I tried to bounce it. It just didn't hit the dirt. He went out there and got it, and you just have to tip your cap in situations like that."
Compounding the unlikelihood of the event was the fact that the homer was the first off a left-hander in Conforto's career.
"The left on left was incredible," David Wright said of Conforto. "He hasn't seen many left-handed pitchers because usually we're getting him out of there. For him to have that at-bat and take that pitch out, you can tell what kind of game plan he goes up there with, how strong he is, and what he can do in the near future when he gets to start every day."
That Duffy's teammates got him off the hook was obviously huge. Teams holding a 3-1 edge in a best-of-seven postseason series are 68-12, and that edge is 39-6 in World Series play. The most recent comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Fall Classic was by the Royals, in 1985 against the Cardinals.
"This game will show you something new every day. I feel like I've said that about a thousand times this postseason," Duffy said. "You can never count us out. We do what we have to do to win every single day. Every day is its own battle. We don't think about the next day or the next opponent or whatever. It's this pitch, right now, that we focus on."
Paul Hagen is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.