Kansas City Royals veteran left-hander Danny Duffy felt like his slider was “slop,” so he threw it even more.
That’s the difference between spring training and the regular season.
He gave up five runs on six hits, including Nike Kansas City Royals Jerseys two home runs, and a walk in three innings as the Royals lost to the Seattle Mariners 6-3 in a Cactus League game at Peoria Stadium on Tuesday. The Royals are now 7-3 this spring.
“That’s why I’m throwing it as much as I am,” Duffy said of his slider. “Sometimes in a start in the regular season, you graduate to the fact when you realize a pitch is not there. You’re not going to probably use it that much. I just couldn’t figure out how to get it the shape that I wanted. … I was not as sharp as I would’ve liked to have been today, but we’re going to keep pushing. I’ll be ready for April.”
Despite not having especially sharp command of his pitches, Duffy increased his workload to three full innings after having gone two in his previous start five days earlier.
The first three batters of the game against Duffy went: solo home run to center, solo homer to left and triple to right. Duffy gave up four extra-base hits in the first frame: two homers, a double and a triple.
The wind blowing out didn’t help Duffy’s cause.
“I think I lived a little bit higher in the zone today, lost a couple balls up,” Duffy said. “For the most part, my fastball — outside of a couple homers — was very similar to my fastball the other day. I was getting in on guys, and they were just putting the ball where we weren’t.”
Duffy retired the side in order in his third and final inning.
“I actually thought his stuff was pretty good, good life,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Duffy. “He got hurt on a couple changeups that he left up. We saw some good changeups too. Curveball was good. Slider, I thought, a couple times hurt him.
“But that’s one when you certainly give some of that credit to the conditions. We had the same conditions. Didn’t do as much damage. But it did affect how Danny’s day went.”
Jorge Soler’s two-run home run in the fourth inning accounted for the Royals’ scoring until the ninth inning when Seuly Matias scored from third base on a wild pitch.
Right-hander Ervin Santana pitched two scoreless innings and held the Mariners to one hit. Santana finished his day by throwing another innings’ worth of pitches in the bullpen as he continues to increase his workload.
“He was very efficient,” Matheny said of Santana. “It was good to see the velo there up around 93, at least on the board we saw. He located well. You could see he had some of that late movement we saw in some of his early live sessions. He did a nice job.”
Greg Holland and Kyle Zimmer also logged scoreless innings. Zimmer worked around two walks.
One day after he launched a 484-foot home run, top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. provided another highlight-reel play for the Royals, this time with his defense.
Witt, who started at second base and went 1 for 4, made a full-extension diving stop on a ground ball in the second inning and threw to first in time to get the out and potentially save a run.
The Royals’ Twitter account posted an image of Witt with his body parallel to the ground as he went after the ball.
“It’s really incredible,” Duffy said. “What I was doing at 20 is not what he’s doing at 20. The kid is going to be a star. Without putting any pressure on what he’s doing, what he’s trying to do, he is a talent. We’ve got a good one.
“Goodness, that play that he made in the hole today. He was shifted over into a righty shift. He went over and got a ball that not a lot of people can get on this planet.”
SAVE SOME OF THOSE
The Royals entered Tuesday with the most productive offense (51 runs scored) in either the Cactus League of the Grapefruit League. They also led both leagues in hits (81), total bases (153), doubles (20), home runs (16) and extra-base hits (38).
In Tuesday’s game, Soler became the 13th Royals player to hit a home run this spring.
“We’ve been firing some good lineups out there every single day,” Matheny said Tuesday morning. “It’s good to see a day like (Tuesday). I don’t remember having one last year with just a barrage of hard-hit balls, everybody spreading the wealth and watching some of the big boys do their thing.”