Duffey battles to keep Twins' rotation humming

Righty overcomes command issues for 6 shutout innings; seventh straight starter to go at least 6 IP

Duffey battles to keep Twins' rotation humming

ARLINGTON -- Tyler Duffey was the first to admit it wasn't pretty.

Duffey didn't have command of his fastball and labored through six innings with a season-high four walks, and he also hit two consecutive batters in the first inning. But he was able to get out of several jams with the help of nine strikeouts and keep the Rangers off the board to help set the tone for the Twins in a 10-1 win Thursday night at Globe Life Park.

"I've been in the process of learning how to slow the game down, and I think I did that today," Duffey said. "I was able to make adjustments mid-game to finish strong and keep it going. When we score early like that, I have to keep us in it, so it felt good at the end."

It marked the seventh straight game a Twins starter went at least six innings, which set a season high and is the longest such streak for the club since May 20-29, 2015. In seven July outings, Twins starters are 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.

"It's one of those things where you see somebody else do well, you want to do well," Duffey said. "Momentum is so big in baseball. The energy just keeps flowing. We put up 10 runs tonight, so I think we're firing on all cylinders right now. Hopefully we can keep it going."

With the help of that starting pitching, the Twins are playing better baseball heading into the All-Star break, as they've won five of six. Manager Paul Molitor held a team meeting last Friday to encourage his players to finish strong heading into the second half, and they've responded, especially on the pitching side.

"It's been all about the starting pitching," Molitor said. "We came close to throwing up another shutout today. You can go right on through. Guys are pitching better from top to bottom."

It was nearly a short outing for Duffey, after he loaded the bases with one out in the first after walking Ian Desmond and plunking Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder. Pitching coach Neil Allen, who was reinstated by the team before the game after serving a six-week suspension for being arrested on a pending DWI charge, made a mound visit and told Duffey to slow down, which worked, as he got Jurickson Profar to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Twins execute the double play

"Neil's first mound meeting upon return was successful," Molitor said with a laugh. "First pitch, we got a double play."

Duffey was helped by his offspeed pitches, especially his changeup, which is something he's worked to incorporate this season. He threw 26 of his 51 fastballs for strikes, but threw 13 of his 17 changeups and 23 of his 34 curves for strikes.

"I threw a lot of good changeups today with all of their lefties," Duffey said. "I was able to get some good swings on my curveball, too. So it's one of those things where if your [fastball] isn't working, you have to rely on something else."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.