Kansas City Royals

Danny Duffy and Royals bullpen dominate Angels, end West Coast trip on high note

The Royals snapped a four-game losing slide, avoided being swept in a three-game series and slayed the left-handed dragon of the Angels’ pitching staff who had dominated them whenever he took the mound.

They also got a win for their own left-hander, Danny Duffy, who grew up about three and a half hours away in Lompoc, California. Duffy’s cheering section consisted of approximately 40 friends and family members.

Adalberto Mondesi and Nicky Lopez had two hits apiece and Hunter Dozier drove in two runs as the Royals won 5-1 over the Los Angeles Angels in front of an announced 43,329 at Angel Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Royals matched their scoring output from the previous two games combined, and longtime antagonist and Angels starter Tyler Skaggs.

Duffy (3-1) gave the Royals a quality start for the third time in his five starts this season. He allowed just one run on five hits and three walks in six innings. He also struck out five and hit one batter. He’s won each of his last three starts.

“This day hasn’t been good to me in my career,” Duffy said. “It’s nice to finally get a win in California. The Angels have always done a really good job of making me throw a lot of pitches. Today, I was able to make pitches when I needed to and get quick outs at times.”

Duffy had been 0-1 in three previous appearances (two starts) in Angel Stadium.

Sunday’s start came as part of the Royals annual father’s road trip, and Duffy’s father, Dan, had been one of at least a dozen family members traveling with the team and hanging out in the clubhouse and in the dugout prior to the three games against the Angels.

The Lompoc contingent grew for Duffy’s start on Sunday.

“It meant a lot for me to get a win here,” Duffy said. “I had a lot of people here from my hometown, and that helped me a lot for sure. It was nice to hear familiar voices when I was coming off the field.”

Skaggs came into the game having posted the best career ERA of any major-league pitcher (minimum of 20 innings) against the Royals. The left-hander allowed just one earned run in 26 innings against the Royals entering the day. He extended that stretch of dominance through the first two innings on Sunday.

The Royals pieced together a three-run third inning with two of the runs scoring with two outs. Whit Merrifield’s one-out walk kick-started things, and Lopez added a single.

Then Mondesi’s looping fly ball dropped in front of right fielder Kole Calhoun, and it bounced away from him and allowed Merrifield to score. After Alex Gordon struck out for the second out of the inning, Dozier roped a fastball out over the plate for a two-run double into the right-center field gap.

“He’s a good pitcher and he always seems to have his best stuff against us,” Dozier said. “I thought we did a good job today, having some good at-bats against him and pushing some runs across.”

The Angels got into the scoring column in the fourth after Duffy hit Calhoun with a pitch and Kevan Smith’s drive into left-center got past the full-extension dive of Gordon in pursuit from left field. Smith’s RBI double gave the Angels their first run and marked the first hit off Duffy by anyone not named Mike Trout.

After an infield single put runners on the corners and held the potential for a big inning, Duffy got a pop-out and a ground ball to end the inning with the Royals up 3-1.

“He threw the ball extremely well, changed speeds extremely well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He did a great job of saving that run in (the fourth inning). He ended up giving up the one, but it’s a different game if they score that next run.”

Chris Owings, who has struggled mightily at the plate all season, tacked on the fourth run with an RBI single, driving in Gordon. Owings hadn’t had an RBI since April 20, against the New York Yankees.

Owings’ single signaled the end of the day for Skaggs. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks, and he also struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.

The Royals tacked on another run in the top of the ninth when Gordon got hit with the bases loaded, extending his club record to 108 times hit by a pitch, to force in Billy Hamilton as the fifth run.

Scott Barlow, Jake Diekman (three strikeouts) and Ian Kennedy each tossed scoreless innings out of the bullpen. The Angels had just one hit in the final three innings.

“The bullpen was fantastic with Barlow, Diekman, Kennedy,” Yost said. “It was just a great job by our pitching staff all together.”

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.