By Jeffrey Flanagan and Rhett Bollinger
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals continue to ride dominating starting pitching with their seventh quality start in their last eight games.
This time it was back to left-hander Danny Duffy, who held the Twins to one run, while Eric Hosmer's go-ahead RBI double in the sixth was the difference offensively for the Royals in a 2-1 win on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City swept the four-game series with its eighth straight victory. Minnesota dropped to 2-11 in the season series and is 0-7 vs. Kansas City on the road.
Royals manager Ned Yost said of the hot streak, "I can't, it's just a -- well, I can't explain it. You just ride it. It's funny, when they get cold, they get cold together, too. We joke about it, but it's true. It's a close-knit group. When we're playing like we are right now, everyone's relaxed and loose, and going up and having great at-bats. Everybody's just, quite frankly, doing their job."
The Royals moved to 3 1/2 games back of the Orioles for an American League Wild Card spot.
Duffy (11-1) exited after 6 2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and one run, walked two and struck out four. It was his sixth straight quality start, and ninth in his last 10 starts. Kelvin Herrera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save.
"There was a lot of traffic out there," said Duffy, who won his 10th straight. "But we made pitches when we had to. Drew [Butera] called a great game. When you don't have your best stuff, you just battle. That was kind of how I felt today. Just get through as many outs as you can and let your defense play behind you. And goodness, didn't they? They killed it out there today."
Twins starter Ervin Santana was outstanding, going seven innings and giving up just five hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out a season-high 10.
"It was a lot better game for us in terms of competing compared to yesterday, but we've fallen short of taking advantage of opportunities," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We had another situation with a runner at third and nobody out, and we can't get him in. When you have your best pitcher going, those things can be huge."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hot Hoz: Hosmer singled in the second and scored, extending his hitting streak to six games. More importantly, Hosmer rifled an RBI double to center in the sixth, scoring Lorenzo Cain, who extended his hitting streak to eight games with two more hits. Hosmer now has driven in a run in seven straight games, a season-high stretch.
Of the pitch he hit for a double, Hosmer said, "Actually it was a changeup. I was just trying to see something out over the plate. He'd been busting me in all day and I was trying to shut it down, down and in, and look for anything out over the plate. … He tried to bust it [the changeup] out with me. He likes to mess with me."
Plouffe doubles up:Trevor Plouffe had Minnesota's first hit with a leadoff double in the second, but was stranded at third, as the Twins couldn't cash in despite loading the bases with none out. But Plouffe doubled again in his next at-bat, driving home Robbie Grossman to tie the game in the third.
"For the most part, we saw the ball pretty well against [Duffy]," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "We had the bases loaded with nobody out, and first and third with one out. So we had our chances. But it's like Nate Diaz against Conor McGregor last night; Diaz didn't pop him when he had the chance."
Manufacturing a run: The Royals got on the board first in the second inning when Hosmer singled and raced to third on Kendrys Morales' double into the left-field corner. Alex Gordon struck out -- and he went hitless to end his 11-game hitting streak -- but Alcides Escobar, with the infield playing back, grounded out to short, scoring Hosmer.
Santana keeps it rolling: Santana has been on an impressive run since mid-June, and kept it going against the Royals despite getting saddled with the tough-luck loss. Over his last 11 starts, Santana has a 1.91 ERA with nine quality starts over that span.
"I was able to keep them off-balance for the most part," Santana said. "You have to keep the ball down and elevate when you need to."
"I was just kind of the generic pitcher out there, doing what I had to do to get outs. My team picked me up today." -- Duffy
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (5-7, 4.90 ERA) will look to post back-to-back quality starts for the first time this month on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT, when the Twins return home for a three-game set against the Tigers. Gibson pitched a complete game in his last outing, giving up three runs in nine innings.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura will get the ball on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. CT for the opener of a three-game Interleague series at Marlins Park. Ventura hasn't yielded more than three runs in an outing since July 3, while the Royals have won in each of his last four starts.