Duffy pitches Royals past White Sox
CHICAGO — Left-hander Danny Duffy figures to make one more start for the Kansas City Royals before the regular season ends.
His latest effort helped sustain the Royals’ faint aspirations to go beyond that and return to the postseason for the first time since 2015.
Duffy pitched six-plus strong innings to finally solve a familiar foe, helping the Royals to an 8-2 win against the Chicago White Sox and keep Kansas City’s American League wild-card hopes alive.
Kansas City (76-78) remained 4 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second AL wild-card spot while pulling even with Anaheim. Texas, playing late at Oakland, was one-half game ahead of the Royals when Saturday’s game ended.
“Just keep pushing,” Duffy said. “I mean, there’s crazier things that have happened in this game. We want to continue to try to finish strong and worry about next year when next year comes.”
Duffy pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. He was 0-3 with a 9.56 ERA in three earlier starts against the White Sox this season, yielding at least five runs each time.
“Historically, I’ve done well here,” Duffy said. “This has been a rough year for me. They’ve seen me, so they’re incredibly tough to punch out and they’re hard to finish off, so hats off to them. Tonight, we were able to make some pitches in some tough spots, and my changeup was really working for me tonight, and everything felt great. I just felt like I was in rhythm, big time.”
Whit Merrifield smacked a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning to break things open for Kansas City. The White Sox (62-92) struggled to mount an attack after Jose Abreu hit an RBI single against Duffy (9-9) in the first inning. Abreu added a run-scoring groundout in the seventh for his club-leading 100th RBI. Abreu joined Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols as the only players with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in their first four major league seasons.
Speaking through a team translator, Abreu praised the White Sox front office, teammates and fans for their support.
“This organization was the one that made possible my mom’s dream for me to play in the majors,” Abreu said.
White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey (0-7) retired the first seven Royals he faced before Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar singled with one out in the third inning. Greater trouble surfaced one inning later as the Royals erased an early one-run deficit with a two-out rally in the fourth.
Salvador Perez doubled to score Eric Hosmer from first base before Perez scored on a Mike Moustakas single. Alex Gordon added to the lead in the fifth, hitting an opposite-field, solo home run against Covey with one out.
Covey made his 17th career major league appearance and 11th start, all this season. Covey spaced three runs, five hits, three strikeouts and one walk in six innings, his longest outing since also working six innings in a May 18 no-decision at Seattle.
“That was, I think, my fourth start against (the Royals),” Covey said. “I’m familiar with their hitters a little bit. I feel like the more a pitcher faces a hitter, the pitcher gets the advantage a little bit, more so than the hitter might.”
Hosmer, Perez, Gordon and Brandon Moss had two hits apiece for the Royals. Perez doubled twice and had two RBI.
Matt Davidson had two hits for the White Sox and their only extra-base hit, a double.
The White Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, but left-hander Scott Alexander pitched out of the jam, sandwiching two strikeouts around the Abreu groundout.
“That was huge for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “All our relievers pitched well tonight.”
Game time temperature was 91 degrees, but several players, including Escobar, seemingly felt right at home.
Heat and humidity are the norm in his native Venezuela this time of year.
“It’s just like this; 85, 90 (degrees),” Escobar said.
The White Sox fell to 10-12 in September and are aiming to finish a rebuilding season with a winning record in the final month. Manager Rick Renteria lauded a consistent effort and clubhouse vibe among players, key elements he feels have buoyed the White Sox throughout 2017.
NOTES: Royals C Salvador Perez returned to the lineup after leaving Friday’s game as a precautionary measure when he was hit by a foul tip. “It was more his neck got a little sore last night, a little stiff,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But he’s fine.” ... White Sox SS Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games when he singled to lead off the fourth inning. ... White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon, out for the remainder of the season with an injured throwing shoulder, said the club still is working to determine the extent of his injury. Rodon said he could not answer whether offseason shoulder surgery could be a possibility.