KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — Beyond the left-field fence, a wall highlights the history of Kauffman Stadium, a venue that has seen three decades of separation between its two World Series championship teams and 45 years worth of Hall of Fame opponents.
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Matt Davidson has bested all of the latter.
Davidson directed a pair of home runs into the right-field stands on Friday, his second an 11th-inning blast that lifted the White Sox to a 7-4 victory against the Royals.
In four games at Kauffman Stadium in 2018, Davidson has hit seven home runs — more than any visiting player in a single season in the stadium’s history. The Royals (5-19) will host the White Sox another half-dozen times this year. Davidson has just two home runs in all other ballparks combined in 2018.
The latest came off Royals lefty Tim Hill, who after throwing a scoreless 10th remained on the mound for the 11th. The Royals bullpen had fired four straight scoreless innings before the smoothness of Hill’s first frame failed to last. He served up a full-count fastball that Davidson sent into the stands. His first home run came off left-hander Danny Duffy, the Royals’ opening day starter who will complete April without a victory.
The Royals have just five victories in their initial 24 games. The complications of the first month were before Royals manager Ned Yost on Friday afternoon, and he summarized them rather innocuously. With a literal shrug, he pointed toward the lack of timely hits. A change of outcome there, he said, had the potential to alter the next few weeks.
Hours afterwards, the Royals instead relied on some help early. They scored three of their initial four runs either directly or indirectly off of White Sox miscues, all except a Mike Moustakas first-inning home run, his eighth of the season. The tying runs in the seventh inning arrived via a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Whatever works. Because hitting with runners on base was again troublesome. The Royals were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
That wasn’t good enough to overcome another uneven outing from Duffy.
The split statistics perplexed Duffy, his outings against the Chicago White Sox outliers that didn’t jive with his relative success against the remainder of the league. He must be tipping pitches against a division opponent that sees him often, he figured, and so he re-introduced the wind-up as a better-safe-than-sorry maneuver.
On Friday, he had an opportunity to prove its benefit. Instead, the White Sox got him again. Chicago pounced on Duffy for four runs, chasing him after six innings.
Nothing has provided him more trouble than exposure to the White Sox, who have defeated him twice this season. In his past six starts against Chicago over 2017-18, Duffy has allowed 28 earned runs in 32 innings.
After the White Sox touched Duffy for five runs on opening day, Duffy commented that he thought he had been tipping pitches while throwing from the stretch. Thus the decision to instead throw from the wind-up position with nobody on base. It didn’t solve the issue Friday — he threw 74 of 106 pitches for strikes, but the White Sox pounced on him for two runs in the second and two in the fourth, producing them on a homer and pair of triples.
Moustakas provided an early lead, sending a baseball 438 feet into the fountains in left center. It jump-started a two-run first inning.
The Royals had five hits the first time through the order, matching the most White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez had allowed in any full start this season. Lopez settled in and lasted 6 1/3 innings. Half the four runs he allowed were unearned.
Yost tinkered with the lineup, stacking three of his four most reliable hitters atop the order, with Whit Merrifield, Moustakas and Salvador Perez. The sequence supplied a pair of first-inning runs — punctuated by the rare opposite-field shot from Moustakas — and four consecutive hits from Moustakas (home run), Perez (single), Lucas Duda (single) and Jorge Soler (double). The Royals turned that into just two runs, though, after leaving base runners on second and third with only one out. They stranded two more in the second and two more in the third.
The Royals Jorge Soler has reached base safely in 11 straight games. His first-inning double followed a dropped foul popup from White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.