ARLINGTON, Tex. (TNS) — When Danny Duffy stepped off the mound at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Thursday night, no coolers needed to be upended. Gloves didn't need to be thrown into dugout walls.
No, Thursday was different. For the first time in weeks, Duffy's outing didn't necessitate a self-defeating post-game interview.
Because when he returned to his team's dugout, he received applause and pats on the back. He had bucked his recent struggles and had thrown a dominating 72/3 innings in the Royals' 8-2 win over the Rangers.
Duffy scattered four hits, allowed two walks and one run and struck out five batters in his longest outing of the season. He'd thrown seven scoreless innings before Rougned Odor hit an RBI single in the eighth.
After allowing Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo to reach base to start the first inning, Duffy retired 19 of the next 21 batters he faced. He worked back from 3-0 counts to strike out both Hanser Alberto and Nomar Mazara along the way. He induced a double play to keep the Rangers away from third base for the seventh inning in a row.
And maybe most important of all: He tossed his slider, the pitch that has hurt him the most, with the precision he'd been lacking all season.
There's no team Duffy dominated more last season than the Rangers. He allowed one run in 152/3 innings pitched for an 0.57 ERA.
The last time he faced the Rangers, Duffy came two outs shy of a complete game: He had thrown eight shutout innings, then surrendered the only run of the game in the ninth inning for the loss at Kauffman Stadium on July 15.
Perhaps the comfort of those numbers was all Duffy needed to regain confidence in himself. Or maybe he just needed to look inward.
It helped that the offense provided him a two-run cushion with Ramon Torres' Little League homer in the second inning. (Torres singled and came all the way home on an error.) And that Salvador Perez drove in four runs while Whit Merrifield got on base three times and smoked a two-run double in the eighth.
At any rate, Thursday's outing was exactly the one Duffy needed to separate himself from the cluster of his first 10 starts. His ERA, which had been the highest in baseball at 6.88 entering Thursday, dropped more than a half-run to 6.14.
And the Royals benefited, winning three games in a row for the first time this season.