Manager Ned Yost likes to keep James Shields on a regular five-day routine -- with four days of rest between starts. Because Shields started Sunday's game, the open date meant the ace could start again on Friday against the Angels, bumping Duffy.
"I made the decision last week that I wasn't going to do that," Yost said. "I did originally plan to do that, but I think we're at the point where everybody could use an extra day."
So Shields will get five days of rest and start Saturday against the Angels, and the rest of the starters will also move up a day.
"It's a good time to give everybody an extra day," Yost said. "If Duff did throw good or didn't throw good, we were going to do that anyway."
Yost was pretty sure that Duffy would get a perfect game or at least a no-hitter after left fielder Alex Gordon made a spectacular diving catch on Nick Markakis' bid for a double to start the seventh inning.
"Nine times out of 10, when you see a no-hitter, there's always a spectacular play made, and when Gordy made that play, I was like, 'Oh man, we might see something special here tonight,'" Yost said.
One out later, however, Adam Jones' single ended the bid. Duffy, in his seven-plus innings, had no walks and two strikeouts. And what about that seemingly low number of K's?
"Well, that's what allowed him to command his pitch count. If you're striking a bunch of guys out, your pitch count is going to jump dramatically," Yost said.
Duffy finished with 97 pitches, 65 of them strikes.
"Strikeouts just come. You don't try to strike people out," said catcher Brett Hayes. "You just execute pitches, and that's what Duffy did. These guys are big league hitters; they're hard to strike out, [and] you're not trying to strike them out."
Control is sometimes an issue with Duffy, but he avoided throwing ball four all night.
"[Manny] Machado swung 3-0, and two [other counts], I think, that went 3-1 or 3-2 before [O's hitters] made their outs, but [Duffy] got them to put the ball in play," Yost said.
Duffy pitched into the eighth inning for the first time, and his two-hit, shutout pitching lowered his ERA to 1.06 for his three starts this year. In those three games, the offense has scored just three runs for him, and he has a 1-2 record starting in the injured Bruce Chen's spot.
Chen threw in the bullpen on Saturday and did fine, but he is not yet ready for a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment.
"He had a little bit of stiffness and tightness but it went away immediately," Yost said.