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Royals looking good halfway through their most important doubleheader in a decade

Well, that was no dumpster fire.

Danny Duffy, who used that description for his most recent big league outing,^ took a no-hitter into the sixth and generally pumped life into the Royals’ most important single day of baseball in a decade (maybe longer).

^ UPDATE: I asked Duffy if he had another description for this start: "I wish I could’ve had a little more time to think before (calling the last start a dumpster fire). This one was just, it was perfect. It was fun. It was baseball. My stuff, if I execute, is good enough to get it done and my team had my back when I didn’t."

The Royals won 2-1, Greg F. Holland picking up his 26th consecutive save – including an absolute man-handling of Miguel Cabrera – and this is the Duffy the Royals are hoping to have in their rotation for years. He’s always had great stuff, always been capable of days like this where he rips through the American League’s best offense.

It’s moments like this that keep the dream going, even if barely. James Shields is pitching the second game of today’s doubleheader. The Royals are five back in the wild card. Two years ago, both teams that eventually won the wild card were further out on this date.

Just saying.

Anyway, that makes the Royals 4-0 against Verlander this year. He is having, for him, an off season but still good for most: 12-9, with a 3.51 ERA.

That would be Verlander’s worst ERA since 2008, but, for comparison’s sake, only 18 points worse than James Shields this year.

Anyway, Verlander has generally beaten the Royals like they stole something and it’s not like he’s been bad against them this year: 27 2/3, eight earned, 21 strikeouts.

Maybe it’s just a small sample or maybe it’s another small sign of progress but winning all four games against Justin Verlander has to count for something.

A recap of the previous three games:

April 25 in Detroit: Verlander gives up just one run in seven innings, but James Shields is pretty good too, giving up three over eight. The Royals tie it in the eighth on a sacrifice fly, and win it in the 10th as Alex Gordon hits a grand slam about a thousand feet to center field.

June 12, in Kansas City: Verlander is good, again – seven shutout innings. But Shields is also pretty good, again: two runs in seven innings. The Royals win another battle of the bullpens, this one highlighted by Lorenzo Cain’s two-outs, two-strikes home run off Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth.

July 20, in Kansas City: This time the Royals just beat Verlander, getting eight hits, four walks, and six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings. Mike Moustakas homered, Sal Perez had a two-run double.