By Jeffrey Flanagan and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- It's a simple formula: When Danny Duffy starts, the Royals generally win.
They won for the eighth straight time when Duffy starts -- a 4-2 hard-earned win over the Blue Jays on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals now are 13-3 overall this season in Duffy's starts.
Eric Hosmer delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the fifth.
The Blue Jays remained in a virtual tie with the Orioles atop the American League East.
Duffy threw 101 pitches, 65 for strikes, and he gave up five hits and two runs, while walking two and striking out six over 6 2/3 strong innings. Peter Moylan turned in 1 1/3 shutout innings, and closer Kelvin Herrera registered his fourth save.
"They're a great team," Duffy said. "It just seems as though they were on what's been my best pitch for me this year, my changeup. They were staying on it like crazy.
"When I missed, they made me pay. Russell Martin probably hit about 1,000 feet worth of fly balls today. So they're a real good hitting team. You got to really pick and choose your battles. When it's time to bear down, you got to really bear down."
Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez gave up nine hits and four runs in his six innings. He walked one and struck out three.
"I thought he threw a good ballgame," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "[The Royals] made some things happen. They really did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Clutch hit for Hoz: The Royals entered the game hitting .222 with two out and runners in scoring position. But Hosmer delivered a big two-run single in a three-run fifth inning. The Royals loaded the bases on singles by Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando and Raul Mondesi, the last a bunt. Alcides Escobar's infield hit scored a run, but Cheslor Cuthbert popped out and Lorenzo Cain grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Orlando at home. But Hosmer followed with a two-run single to right-center.
After losing seven of nine and three straight, Hosmer and the Royals finally got to shake hands again after a win.
"It's a nice feeling," Hosmer said. "It feels good to face a tough pitcher and get the win."
Deja Blue: In Friday's series opener, it took the Blue Jays four pitches to post their first run of the game. One day later, they needed just five. For the second straight night, Devon Travis put the Blue Jays on the board with a leadoff home run to left-center field. The blast, which traveled an estimated 407 feet and left the bat with an exit velocity of 102 mph, according to Statcast™, was his 10th of the year, and third in the series. More >
"I just feel healthy now. My shoulder feels strong. My body feels good," Travis said. "I'm just looking forward to keeping it going."
As for the home run, Travis said it was a changeup that stayed up.
"[Duffy] made a mistake," Travis said. "He didn't make many tonight though."
Moylan was one Royals pitcher who has solved him this series: Moylan struck him out in the seventh.
"He's a beast," Moylan said. "I don't know what he's been eating the last few days. But he's a beast. I just tried to do what I always do: Keep the ball out of the middle of the plate and hope he hits it on the ground."
The rookie comes through: Mondesi had a bit of a coming-out party. He made a terrific bunt for a single that helped ignite the three-run fifth. Then, Mondesi showed off his blazing speed in the sixth. With Orlando on second and two out, Mondesi rifled one into the right-field corner and sped into third with his first Major League triple.
"Just a great bunt," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And then he comes through with the big two-out [triple] for the tack-on run."
All good things: Sanchez started his outing with 3 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, but ran into trouble the rest of the way. He got out of the fourth inning despite facing Kendrys Morales with two runners in scoring position and just one out, but Sanchez wasn't as fortunate in the fifth and sixth innings. As he left the mound, Sanchez had surrendered four runs, snapping an eight-game streak of yielding two or fewer runs. It was also the first time he did not post a quality start since July 9.
"I just felt like I didn't really have a good grip of off-speed stuff," Sanchez said. "I was predominantly a one-pitch pitcher tonight, and I felt like later in the game they kind of caught on."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Travis became the first Blue Jays hitter to record leadoff home runs in back-to-back games since Jose Cruz Jr. on April 22-23, 2000. It was also the first time Travis had recorded three home runs in a single series or in two consecutive games.
The Royals had a single-season and franchise-record nine straight games of scoring three runs or fewer before notching four on Saturday night.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Leading off the seventh inning, Kevin Pillar hit a slow roller to Royals first baseman Hosmer, who had to move toward second base to make the snag. As Hosmer flipped the ball to Duffy, who was covering first, Pillar slid headfirst into the bag, trying to beat the throw. The play was initially ruled an out, but the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman (8-4, 4.74 ERA) will get the ball for the series finale at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET. Counting the postseason, Stroman is 3-0 all-time against the Royals with a 3.10 ERA. He last pitched against Kansas City on July 6, giving up two runs in eight innings in the Blue Jays' 4-2 win.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (6-9, 4.83) will take the mound for the series finale on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. CT. Ventura took a no-decision in his last outing, giving up two runs in five innings. That game did, however, mark the first time Ventura pitched in a win since June 17.