Kansas City Royals starter Danny Duffy has been very good this season. He was very good tonight, finishing with a line of seven innings pitched, three hits, two walks, and a season-high 10 strikeouts. The Yankees really couldn’t manage anything against him, although they hurt themselves early by chasing a bunch of breaking balls that weren’t particularly close. A terrible, three strikeout first inning was an omen of what would come for the American League’s best offense.
New York seemed snakebitten after two great offensive games in the series. Chase Headley reached in the top of the fifth with the team down by two after a Mike Moustakas error. Didi Gregorius followed with a spectacular at-bat and drew a walk, and the Yankees were in business. Sadly, an Aaron Hicks double play and Chris Carter strikeout failed to cash either of the two baserunners.
Two innings later, Aaron Judge lined what looked like a single to center field. Lorenzo Cain misplayed the ball and Judge made a great decision to take second, being credited with a double. Of course, Headley, Didi and Hicks couldn’t drive him in, and that was the last good chance the Yankees had against Duffy.
Jordan Montgomery, meanwhile…I don’t know what to think about Gumby anymore. His lines usually look better than he pitches. Montgomery’s tonight? Five innings pitched, four hits, five earned runs and three walks. Meanwhile, he struck out four Royals batters. Moustakas did most of the offensive damage, with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth that more than made up for his error in the top half.
I get the excitement over all the pitches he throws, and the release point. That’s all great. His walks kill me. Throwing five pitches doesn’t mean much if you can’t reliably command them, and his 4.12 BB/9 would put him in the top - or bottom, I suppose - 10 in the AL, given enough innings to qualify. The kid has to throw strikes.
Chad Green was brilliant in relief, throwing 3 innings while surrendering just one hit, and striking out six. As has been the case for a good chunk of the season, the relievers give the best pitching performance on the team.
The game looked to be pretty sleepy until the ninth. A Starlin Castro double and a single from Judge put two on against the struggling, by his standards, Kelvin Herrera. Didi cashed in Castro to stave off the shutout, and the Yankees still have yet to be held scoreless all season. The RBI single was sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts though, and a pinch-hitting appearance from Brett Gardner was for naught. Royals win and avoid the sweep.
A-Rod did a pretty good job of color commentary on FS1 to boot. I thought his self-depreciation over his high school grades and his 2016 season performance probably helped endear him to a less-friendly audience. Hopefully we’ll see and hear more of him.
That looks about right. I guess Didi would get a nod on the WPA chart with a .058, but otherwise this wasn’t a game to write home about. One of my favorite moments was watching Hicks’s first two at-bats, where he saw just two pitches and caused three outs - a flyout and double play, respectively.
The Yankees are back tomorrow, dropping into the Trop for a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. First pitch comes at 7:10pm EDT, with Luis Severino tabbed to start.